Friday, November 28, 2014

That Bee Looks Familiar

Bee-lieve it or not, the above ad for PM Blended Whiskey – which ran in the Lorain Journal on November 16, 1949 – caught my eye. I'll explain why in a little bit – but first, a little background.

The ad was a black and white version of a full color ad that was part of a full series of wonderful magazine ads for PM Blended Whiskey. Here's the color version (below), as well as others that appeared as part of the "Clear, Clean Taste" campaign .

The product was bottled by National Distillers Products in Cincinnati, Ohio (and in case you're wondering, the "PM" originally stood for Penn Maryland). The PM brand – which seemed to be very popular in the 1940s and 50s – seems to be dormant now, and its parent company was guzzled up by Jim Beam Company in the late 1980s.

Even though the whisky is no longer around, that great-looking bee in the ad is still around – which is why the ad caught my attention.

Today, he apparently serves as the advertising mascot of the Tropical Blossom Honey Company, advertised as Florida's Finest Honey. Here he is (below) as he appeared in the book Character Trademarks (1990) by John Mendenhall, which is why I recognized him in the first place. The logo is circa 1951, a couple years after the PM Blended Whiskey ad. He's traded his flower for an orange!

And here he is in full glorious color (below) as he appears today on the Tropical Blossom Honey Company website, which you can visit by clicking here. The company is in its eighth decade of business and has an online store. [Blogger's note: the business was sold in 2015 and the brand appears to 'bee' defunct]

I have no idea which company was the first to use that distinctive bee for their mascot.
Did you know this bee also has a cousin who lives in the Great White North? 
A greatly simplified and appealing version of him in this same pose (below) served as an early mascot for Billy Bee Honey, the number one honey in Canada. The company has been around since 1958.

The above artwork was reproduced from a label on vintage Billy Bee jar that I found in the spouse's Canadian grandmother's garage during one of our annual visits to her home in North Bay, Ontario.
Here's a similar jar and label that I found on the internet (below).
Courtesy Etsy
The Billy Bee mascot's design has been modified through the years. He eventually lost his gloves – as well as his arms! Here he is on a set of collectible glasses with a sports theme that often pop up on Ebay.

The spouse's grandmother would only buy Billy Bee Honey – the creamed, spreadable version – and she saved all her empty Billy Bee plastic tubs to store her leftovers in. The empty containers looked exactly like this (below).

After many years of trips to North Bay, we got hooked on the spreadable honey as well, and today it's the only kind of honey the spouse will eat, which is not too surprising since she's still a Green Card-carrying Maple Leafer. We bring some Billy Bee home from Canada whenever we go there. For a couple years, we could even get it at the Sheffield Lake Apples grocery store in a smaller container for the American market (below), but it seems to have disappeared from its shelves. I guess most Americans didn't know what to make of the sticky stuff.
We haven't been up to Canada for a little over a year, and have had to resort to buying some online from the Canadian Favourites website. Strangely enough, on the latest packaging (below), Billy Bee has grown his arms back!

Anyway, click here to visit the Billy Bee Honey website.
UPDATE (August 13, 2023)
Here's another black and white ad for PM Blended Whiskey featuring our favorite bee. It ran in the Lorain Journal back on December 31, 1950 and has a headline aimed specifically at the Buckeye State.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems that one man's whiskey is another man's honey...