Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Baby Ruth From Above

Way back in December, I got a very nice email from Susan E at This Old Paper. Actually, the email was a note telling me that I ought to look at her current post, which I quickly did. It was a HUGE Welcome to Me, combining our mutual fascination with old paper with a fresh idea for some art work on a 'bookmark' of sorts. She provided a link to the Forgotten Bookmarks site, which I had already been following on an almost daily basis. Her suggestion was that it would be really neat if I combined an old ad for Baby Ruth with the old billhead that Michael Popek at Forgotten Bookmarks had found in "The Quarterly Illustrator, Vol. 1 No.4" published in 1893. The line items listed were for one box (120) of Baby Ruth and one box (120) of Butterfinger candy bars. The title for his post on this special find was Someone's Got the Munchies.

To come to the point, I contacted Michael at Forgotten Bookmarks and although I offered to pay for it, he told me he would GIVE me the billhead - and he did.

That was over six months ago. I pulled the piece out of my ever-bulging binder several weeks ago, and although I tried every conceivable layout for the ad that Susan E had suggested, there was just no way I was going to fit that ad on this piece of old paper. So...

I started doing more than just a little research.

The Baby Ruth candy bar was THE Gravy Train for a fellow by the name of Otto Y. Schnering, who not only knew how to make a good candy bar, he also knew how to promote it.

In 1926, Otto hired a barnstorming air racer by the name of Doug Davis to spread Baby Ruth candy bars far and wide - from the air. Davis had three Waco airplanes and two former military pilots with which he was barnstorming the Southern states and he called it the Davis Flying Circus. It was quickly turned into the Baby Ruth Flying Circus. Check the link above for more information about what became a sensation from the skies when Davis started dropping Baby Ruth candy bars tied to rice paper parachutes - in over forty states across the United States.

But I digress. I started looking for images that could be of use to me for a piece of paper about half the size of a regular piece of letterhead. I've include the image of an advertisement for a store in Milwaukee promoting a Rain of Baby Ruth candy bars. I knew I was close, but the image was just not clean enough to do the paper up right, so I continued looking for Baby Ruth airplanes until I found one I could use. What you see is what you get! My art probably doesn't make you want to go buy a Baby Ruth, but you'll perhaps think of my art the next time you pay 75 cents for a nickel candy bar!


  1. Its a very interesting post i like it.
    Its a informative blog for me.
    keep update your blog i like this blog.

  2. Dave,

    Wow! This art piece is 'above and beyond'! And a perfect example of why your site is so intriguing: a nice slice of history served with a huge scoop of original art. Always hits the spot!

  3. Absolutely perfect! Wish one of those had flown over Rome, Illinois, when I was a kid. Candy even tasted better back then. I can remember one time when a plane similar that flew over and a bunch of us were waving and yelling "Hi, Lindbergh" - the pilot turned off the engine, leaned out and yelled back, "Hi, kids". We were thrilled. Carol

  4. And an added tidbit: Mr. Rowe paid a whopping $1.52 for 120 Baby Ruth and 120 Butterfingers! Even if he sold them at a nickel a piece, I think he made a dandy profit!

  5. With this historic tidbit we can think of sweet profits from thin air -:)

  6. Outstanding! Love the art, love the story. Raining candy bars. Wonder if any hit windshields as someone was merrily driving down the road?

  7. you are right i will forever think of this post when i see a baby ruth candy bar!
    you did some researching there dave!
    you ended up with a fabulouse piece to boot!
    ty for being the historian you are!

  8. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this, Dave. The comments here are just as entertaining. Flying candybars - my son would absolutely love that! Two passions rolled into one! I also love the art - especially the way you've lined up the tail of the plane with the line under the terms heading and also the way the prop almost signifies another margin on the bill. Beautiful composition!

  9. PS. Dave, have your artworks been published in hardcopy yet? I would love to possess a book with your writing and artwork in it! Blame the librarian in me.