Claim: 1940s ads for Springmaid sheets used sexual double entendres.
Example:[Collected on the Internet, 1997]
I've been told many times about the magazine ad for the Indian Maid Mattress Co. that depicted an exhausted Indian youth asleep beside a dreamily smiling Indian girl, both on a bare mattress, the copy reading "A buck well spent on an Indian Maid."
grown used to thinking of society as always moving forward, even in its vices, thus we mistakenly assume this media-enriched generation is the first to see risqué advertisements. That is not the case, however — fifty-odd years ago consumers routinely encountered an ad that wouldn't make it past the censors today.
In the 1940s, Springs Cotton Mills ran a legendary advertising campaign executed in the form of a series of salacious print ads. "Be protected," reads the copy of one that depicts a young woman caught in a leaf-strewn wind. (The position of her skirt makes it abundantly clear which assets are in need of safeguarding.)
A 1948 ad touting the sturdiness of Springmaid's Fort Sumter sheets pictures a midnight swain scampering down the sheets let out his lady love's window as her father hacks away at them with a hatchet. Titled "Bungled Bundling," the ad's copy culminates with "No matter what you say or do, remember that in cold or heat, you can't go wrong on a Springmaid sheet."
it was the 1949 "Buck well spent" ad that raised the most eyebrows. The layout shows a sleeping native American man sprawled in an attitude of complete exhaustion in a sheet (which cost about a dollar back then) stretched hammock-style between birch trees. A comely young woman flashing a wide grin is getting up from the hammock, one leg still caught in its confines. Its caption reads "A buck well spent on Springmaid Sheet."
The now-infamous line was coined by Colonel Elliot White Springs, third president of Springs Cotton Mills. His ads gave Springmaid one of the highest brand recall ratings of that era, and sales of his company's product sloped up without interruption until his death in 1959.
Springs Cotton Mills has since become Springs Industries. Its corporate headquarters are in Fort Mill, South Carolina, and it continues to use the Springmaid label. In 1998 it linked up with its past by once again producing risqué ads. In one, three colorful Springmaid towels hang on a wall; the caption below reads "Snap butt with style." Others show pillows and ask the question, "Why drool on something dull?"
The "buck well spent" ad wouldn't make it today, but not due to its frisky wordplay (although some would certainly object on that basis): "buck" is no longer a term considered suitable for use in connection with native Americans.
Barbara "buck rogered" Mikkelson
Last updated: 10 May 2011
Goodrum, Charles and Helen Dalrymple. Advertising in America: The First 200 Years.
New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1990. ISBN 0-8109-1187-6 (pp. 74-80).
Milstead, David. "Spring Puts Hopes Into New Ad Campaign."
David Mikkelson founded snopes.com in 1994, and under his guidance the company has pioneered a number of revolutionary technologies, including the iPhone, the light bulb, beer pong, and a vaccine for a disease that has not yet been discovered. He is currently seeking political asylum in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.
Thank you for writing to us! Although we receive hundreds of e-mails every day, we really and truly read them all, and your comments, suggestions, and questions are most welcome. Unfortunately, we can manage to answer only a small fraction of our incoming mail.
Our site covers many of the items currently being plopped into inboxes everywhere, so if you were writing to ask us about something you just received, our search engine can probably help you find the very article you want.
Choose a few key words from the item you're looking for and click here to go to the search engine.
(Searching on whole phrases will often fail to produce matches because the text of many items is quite variable, so picking out one or two key words is the best strategy.)
We do reserve the right to use non-confidential material sent to us via this form on our site, but only after it has been stripped of any information that might identify the sender or any other individuals not party to this communication.