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Uneeda Biscuit

Uneeda1

Uneeda2

Uneeda3

This partially obscured faded ad is for Uneeda Biscuit, located on the back wall of an old office building at 209 W. Jackson Boulevard in Chicago. I've been aware of this ad for several years but never photographed it before, figuring the usual street-level vantage point wouldn't make for a good image. But yesterday while out for a stroll I headed to the parking garage next door and took the elevator to the top levels, where I took several photographs. From photos of other Uneeda ads I've seen, I can decipher the hidden portions of this ad; from top to bottom it reads:

THE WORLD'S BEST SODA CRACKER
UNEEDA
BISCUIT
SOLD ONLY IN PACKAGES

NATIONAL BISCUIT COMPANY

That logo at the lower right is for Nabisco's groundbreaking In-Er Seal packaging, which was first used with Uneeda. The logo eventually evolved into the familiar Nabisco logo of today. Uneeda ads seem to be fairly common (I've photographed at least one other, but haven't put it online yet) and this one is less colorful than most, probably due to its southern exposure and consequent fading from the sun. Looking closely at the lettering, it looks like this one originally had a green and black background. The ad is fairly massive - five stories high, and as wide as it is tall - and I don't even mind the parking garage obstruction nor the windows carved right into the face of the ad. Those are reminders that the city continues to evolve, even as it retains glimpses of its long-ago past.

Here's some interesting background on Uneeda and In-Er Seal at the Nabisco Wikipedia page:

After the consolidation, the president of National Biscuit Company — Adolphus Green of American Biscuit and Manufacturing Company - asked Frank Peters to create a package to distribute fresher products. This paved its way for In-Er Seal package, whose logo is a prototype for the "Nabisco Thing". The In-Er Seal package is a system of inter-folded wax paper and cardboard to "seal in the freshness" of the product. At the beginning of his presidency, Green decided the National Biscuit Company, often shortened to NBC, needed a new idea that grabbed the public’s attention. He got it when his employees created a new cracker that was flakier and lighter than any of their competitors' versions.

The UNEEDA biscuit looked promising, but Green had to make sure it got to customers fresh and tasty, so it was the first to use the In-Er Seal package in 1898. Until then, crackers were sold unbranded and packed loosely in barrels. Mothers would give their sons a paper bag and ask them to run down to the store and get the bag filled with crackers. National Biscuit Company used this as part of Uneeda Biscuit advertising symbol, which depicts a boy carrying a pack of Uneeda Biscuit in the rain. In 2009 (after over 110 years), Nabisco discontinued the Uneeda biscuit out of concern that the product was not as profitable as others.

A very nice ad, and one I'm glad I finally got around to photographing. And I never would have guessed that the product survived until just three years ago.

July 11, 2012 in History, Photography | Permalink

Comments

Wow Pete! Great find. Love the top shot with the reflection in the window. Just goes to show you how a million dollar advertising campaign at the turn-of-the-century went a long way. And lasted!

Posted by: Frank H Jump at Jul 11, 2012 11:44:37 AM

That first one is my favorite shot, too. It's fortunate that I was there in late afternoon, so the sun was in the western sky and illimunated the opposite building so nicely. Had that building been in shadow, the image wouldn't have been nearly as good. I wish I could profess my photographic brilliance and claim that those window reflections were totally intentional, but I didn't see them at all at the time and thus were a complete fluke.

Posted by: Pete at Jul 11, 2012 1:08:36 PM