A nice person named Marc, who is from New Haven, Connecticut, kindly sent me some pictures of his hometown bakery, a wooden box from the bakery and two ads he found in an early 20th century local newspaper. He wrote, “The New Haven Baking Co, became part of N.B.C. National Biscuit Company, in the late 1890s, and in 1971 changed its name to Nabisco, Inc.” He said that the two ads were found in early 1900’s issues of the New Haven Journal Courier giving evidence that Zu Zu Ginger Snaps were produced in New Haven.
Honestly, I couldn’t find much else about the New Haven Baking Company other than, as you can see on the wooden box, they were located on State Street in New Haven. The factory spanned nine house numbers (118 to 126) so it must have been pretty large. I did a Google Maps street view search but couldn’t find what’s there today.
If anyone has any further info on the bakery or any other ads showing they produced Zu Zu Ginger Snaps and want to send it to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) I’ll be happy to update this post.
My sister-in-law Suzon took this picture at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The National Biscuit Company’s Uneeda Biscuit boy in his ever-present rain slicker has somehow managed to row to an island in a storm and fix himself a cup of tea. But the point, of course, is that NBC’s In-Er-Seal (aka Inner-Seal) packaging will keep the gingersnaps dry. I think a little parental oversight might have avoided this altogether. Looked for more info on this particular piece at the Smithsonian but no cigar. If anyone can provide a little more detail I’ll be happy to update this post. Thanks to Suzon for sending.
In 1918 Harry W. Crane published a psychological monograph detailing a study conducted to test “the association reaction as a test for guilty knowledge of crime.” He wondered whether he could tell if someone was guilty or innocent by testing their reaction times in a word association test. He took a group of students and secretly selected some of them to commit a “crime.” Here are the first set of instructions given to the “criminals.”
First set of instructions for the “criminals.”
Once in the auditorium they were to interact with a group of objects on a table which included a candle, a couple of books and a box of Zu Zu Ginger Snaps, among many others. The idea was that they should spend some time with the objects (reading pages of a book, hiding an object of their choice, eating the snaps, etc.) so that those objects – and words associated with those objects – would imprint on their minds.
Then the whole group (guilty and innocent) was given a word association test. It was felt that the words on the list that corresponded to the objects in the auditorium would ferret out the “guilty” parties. According to Mr. Crane the study proved his theory. Should you choose you can read the whole monograph yourself here.
I think it speaks to the pervasiveness of ZZGS that they were included in a psychological study just after the turn of the century. Not only that but they were included, one might suppose, to appeal to a college student (one of the instructions was for them to eat anything they might like). Does that mean that ZZGS were somewhat common among that age group (18-21)? Or does it say more about the mindset of the person conducting the test (probably older, maybe much older, than the students)?
Ryan Obrist (“a collector of national biscuit advertising”) was kind enough to let me publish his wonderful ZZGS poster. It features the ZZGS Clown, is 15″ tall by 12″ wide and printed on paper. The tagline (“The snappiest ginger snap you ever tasted” makes me want to compile a full list of all their taglines. I did a quick look through some turn of the century newspaper ads sent to my by my friend Pau and the closest tagline to this one I could find was “The best ginger snap you ever tasted.” It will be interesting to see as I dig more if this same exact phrase pops up again. Thanks to Ryan.
Click to enlarge
My friend Pau in Barcelona kindly sent me a beautiful image of a page out of the September 1915 issue of The Printing Art (“An Illustrated Monthly Magazine Devoted to the Graphic Arts”). It is an ad showing what are called carton slips (one of which is ZZGS), all from the National Biscuit Company (NBC, later Nabisco) printed by the Edwards & Deutsch Lithographing Company of Chicago. The ad is promoting the relatively new offset printing process for marketers and advertisers. Offset printing provided a greater impact with more color and greater detail at less cost.
Carton slips were an early form of cross marketing. NBC would put these slips for one brand into the carton or package of another of their products. From an article in the same issue, “The plan of this biscuit company is to include in each box an advertisement of one of the other products, so that users of one food product may learn about others manufactured by the same company.” According to Charlie Brown, “National Biscuit Company put these beautiful “SLIPS” inside different packages of their biscuits. Example, the Graham Cracker insert was placed most of the time in NBC’s Sugar Wafer packages. ZuZu could have been placed inside their Sugar Wafers products.”
It was brilliant, cheap and very effective.
Charlie Brown, as always, was kind enough to send me some photos of different NBC carton slips from his collection. Click on the first image to start a slide show. Thank you Charlie.
Zu Zu Ginger Snaps was the target of many trademark infringement attempts. As I wrote in an earlier post it is amazing the companies that lined up to cash in on the hard work and successful marketing of the National Biscuit Company (NBC, later Nabisco). It’s hard to imagine but products that ran far afield of ginger snaps, cookies or even food items took aim at ZZGS’s popularity. One such infringement was a cigar company (see the image below). I’m not sure how the good will of a cookie marketed to children would translate into cigar sales but try they did.
This image comes via the oft-thanked Charlie Brown and his and his wife Prissy’s blog The Inner-Seal Collector’s Club. Check it out and let Charlie and Prissy know if you appreciate their work in keeping the NBC flame burning – and that includes ZZGS.