An advertisement for an American Kitchen Plan-a-Kit

The Midcentury Women Who Played With Dollhouses

How to sell white, middle-class women on suburban domesticity after World War II? Tantalize them with dollhouse-like models of new cabinets.
A man swinging a woman on roller skates, Savoy Ballroom, Chicago, Illinois

The History Behind the Roller Skating Trend

Since its invention in 1743, roller skating has been tied to Black social movements.
Sailor Moon mid transformation

Selling Toys with the Sailor Moon Transformation Sequence

From her nails painted glossy red to the tiara appearing on her forehead, if you time it out, the transformation in Sailor Moon lasts 40 seconds.
Storm King on the Hudson by Samuel Colman, 1866

Can American Expansion Continue Indefinitely?

Or will continued abundance require serious changes in consumer behavior?
A woman putting a piece of Ikea furniture together

Why We Pay To Do Stuff Ourselves

Why do people love IKEA furniture, cake mixes, and apple-picking? Psychology.
Boxes of Cracker Jacks

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.
refrigerator

The Complicated Politics of… Refrigerators

When American kitchens started getting high-tech in the 1950s, the refrigerator seemed to alienate and frustrate many men.
player piano

Player Pianos and the Commodification of Music

Half of all American homes had a piano or player piano a century ago, but very few do now. Whatever happened to the parlor piano?
Bigfoot signage

How Consumerism Created Bigfoot

People have long told stories about wildmen, creatures who straddled the line between human and animal. But Bigfoot himself first appeared in the 1950s.
Car junkyard

The Birth of Planned Obsolescence

Before WWII, American businesses began embracing “creative waste”—the idea that throwing things away and buying new ones could fuel a strong economy.