Why the “Black Playboy” Folded After Just Six Issues
Duke magazine aimed to celebrate the good life for the era’s growing Black middle-class.
What We Mean By “Better Living”
How advertising used the phrase “better living” to portray big business as a force for moral good and continuous progress.
The Invention of the Giveaway
The appeal of the free gift has always been, for the consumer, about the eternal dream of getting something for nothing.
How Harmonicas Came to America
Harmonicas were invented in Europe in the 1820s as an aid for tuning pianos, but they didn't really take off until they crossed the Atlantic.
Hollywood Froze Out the Founding Mother of Cinema
French filmmaker Alice Guy-Blaché was the first female film director, and renowned as an innovator in the field. Then she moved to Hollywood.
The Populist Power of the American Trucker
How did truckers nudge the American economy toward deregulation?
How Credit Reporting Agencies Got Their Power
Early credit reporting companies urged people to “Treat their credit as a sacred trust” and argued that keeping a good credit record was a moral concern.
How Wrigley Chewed Its Way to Gum Greatness
William Wrigley, Jr. started off as a soap salesman and became a prodigy of consumerism. He sold Americans chewing gum with claims of health benefits.
How Did Big Pharma Get Big?
One branch of the healthcare industry that receives particular opprobrium for its high costs in America compared to other countries is pharmaceuticals.
A Brief History of the Credit Card
For now-ubiquitous consumer credit cards, bad early results had a hidden benefit.