Peculiar Product Pairing

CVA 1184-1769 – [Bendix washing machines and Spork canned meat window display], 1940-48, Jack Lindsay.

This product pairing, to my 21st-century eyes at any rate, seems very odd. It isn’t clear from the archival record just what kind of shop this window was in (hardware, grocery, department store?), but I’m hard-pressed to think of why Bendix clothes washers would be associated with Spam imitator, Spork, in the minds of consumers in the 1940s. The only possible connection I am able to come up with is convenience. As Spork (“the meat of many uses”) was a convenient source of pork, so was the Bendix washer a convenient product for cleaning your clothing. “No muss, no fuss”!

While I still believe the convenience angle has some merit, my thanks to Sheila and Wes for pushing me a to do a little more digging. It appears that Burns was a sponsor of Bendix and were co-advertisers with local radio station CJOR. There is evidence below that one of the grocery stores that had a similar window display for Bendix, Burns, and CJOR was Stong’s Grocery (in the Dunbar neighbourhood from 1931 to present). It looks unlikely that the Bendix/Spork display above was at the same Stong’s store, however. The window looks very different. It is possible that there were a couple of Stong’s outlets in about 1946, however. The BC Directory for that year shows an address for Stong’s Grocery at 95 West Hastings (near the Model Express Shop) where there is today an empty lot (serving as a parking lot). There is no mention in Stong’s own retail history  (or anywhere else that I’ve been able so far to find on the web) of it ever having been in a location other than Dunbar. (There is no mention, either, in the 1946/47 BC Directories of Stong’s having any location other than the one on West Hastings. That in itself isn’t persuasive, however; it is pretty plain from other sources that there was a Dunbar Stong’s from 1931).

Whether the above image is of a Stong’s grocery or not seems difficult to establish.  The only clue is that in one of the several similar images in CVA, there is part of a street number — 325 — which appears above the door of what appears to be the same store. However, there seems to have been another number prior to the 325 and it isn’t clear what the number was. I have doubts that the other grocer shown above would have been one of the larger American ones (e.g. a Piggly Wiggly or a Safeway); there were many, many mom & pop grocers and groceterias in the 1940s. And judging from the apparent fact that Stong’s was one of the grocers participating in the CJOR/Burns/Bendix promotion, it seems probable to me that any other grocer involved in the deal was a small-to-medium-sized independent local grocer.

CVA 1184-1772 - [Burns' canned meat and Bendix washing machine display in the window of Stong's Grocery], 1940-48. Jack Lindsay photo.

CVA 1184-1772 – [Burns’ canned meat and Bendix washing machine display in the window of Stong’s Grocery], 1940-48. Jack Lindsay photo.

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2 Responses to Peculiar Product Pairing

  1. Sheila says:

    Maybe the washing machine give away contest was sponsored by Burn’s meats? Send in ten Spork labels to have your name in the draw sort of thing.

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