Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Dr Seuss and Depression-era Flit

Dr Seuss has been much beloved for his children’s book since I was a child, many years ago. In the 1950s, when I was that child, a Dr Seuss book would be a welcome gift at Christmas, and if I found one at the library it was a special treat. The Cat in the Hat early readers came later. While I was aware of them, I had moved on to other things. Still, when it came time for my son to learn to read, he had those books to help him.

Early on in his career Theodore Seuss Geisel was an advertising artist. One of his main clients was Standard Oil, under the name Stanco, that manufactured and sold the mosquito spray, Flit. Dr Seuss had the account for 17 years, and the slogan “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” became a catchphrase of the era. My father, who grew up in the Great Depression, filled me in on the pop culture and life in the thirties and forties from the time I was old enough to listen, and “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” was part of that informal education.

These examples of one-panel Flit ads were drawn by Dr Seuss, and published in issues of The New Yorker from the years 1933-36.

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