Monday, March 9, 2015

March 10, 1955 Food Center Ad Starring… Sparky?

Here's something kind of interesting for all you advertising buffs.

Sparky (from a 1958 ad)
It's an ad for Jay's Food Center that appeared in the Lorain Journal on March 10, 1955 – 60 years ago tomorrow. It features a meat cleaver-wielding grocer mascot that bears a strong resemblance to Sparky, the mascot of the Sparkle Market chain (shown at left).

The Sparkle Markets chain was organized in 1955. According to the company website, the chain was born when four independent grocers banded together and joined a group of Akron-area independent grocers. Together, they formed the Sparkle Market group and thus were better positioned to compete with the national chains.

Jay's Food Center did become Jay's Sparkle Market by 1957.

Could the freckled cartoon mascot in the ad be the forerunner of Sparky? Perhaps it was indeed an early Sparky with his name scrubbed off his cap so that the Sparkle ad template could be used by grocery stores that had joined the buying group but hadn't officially adopted the Sparkle name yet.


Wireless.Phil said...

Wages were a lot lower then too.
I would have been 4 years old then.

Anonymous said...

"Could the freckled cartoon mascot in the ad be the forerunner of Sparky?"

Alas, it is a more tawdry tale that explains the resemblance. I was an only-child and Dad was a deadbeat who left home when I was six. Two years later he died under mysterious circumstances (an autopsy found a nest of field mice in his left ear). When mom contacted a lawyer to inquire about any inheritance, she was shocked to see Dad's three other "wives" at the law office--all seeking recompense for their years of abandonment.

All had freckle-face sons like myself.

I became close to Timmy and when my endorsement schedule got too busy, he would often fill in as an artist model. He later got work (thanks to a little black shoe polish in his hair) as one of the various "Dondi" incarnations. He died at the age of 62 (I am now 67).

Our third "brother" (Ronnie) was adopted by actor Rance Howard.

--Kevin Klurgeman (aka "Sparky")