Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Canary Star Is Born

So you have a canary - or a parrot, this works on parrots, too - and he or she just doesn't want to sing. Just doesn't feel like it! I'm sure we can all relate. I myself do not feel like singing every minute of the day (much to the relief of the rest of the family).

After all, life is not an MGM musical, with an orchestra starting up every time someone has something important to say (or sing). This is good. And canaries sense this. They are smart. Parrots, too.

But is this good enough for Johnson Smith, purveyors of 1920s novelty items? Oh no, it is not. You must have a bird that sings like Bette Midler 24/7! Yes, that's an anachronistic reference, but never mind. (Insert "Wind Beneath my Wings" joke here.)

So what you do is you get Johnson Smith's lovely rubber canary - painted Canary Gold, and packed in a "handsomely decorated box." It will be sitting on a rubber perch. And it has a little tooting tube attached to it.

Then you must find a confused child to blow into the tube and make the rubber canary sing. It will probably sound like a pathetic 'toot toot' as opposed to accurate bird song but no matter. Oh, and the bill and tail will move, too. So your very smart canary (or parrot) will be totally fooled into thinking it has competition. In no time at all your real canary will be belting out numbers like an avian Ethel Merman. And even your parrot will be warbling in no time at all. You will be able to put on quite a show, with a few of these Victory Canaries in the chorus line. So buy several, and start packing - you're on your way to Hollywood. These birds are heading for the big time!

[From Popular Mechanics, October 1922.]


Tori Lennox said...

Ah, another fine product from Chicagoland!

What I can't figure out is how this is "more natural and effective". Compared to what, exactly? It sure can't be more natural than, say, a REAL canary (or parrot).

Michael said...

The ad does not seem to concentrate on the ease with which one makes this rubber birdie sing. The eyes of the child depicted in the ad seem about ready to pop out of his head from the effort it takes to get this dirty birdie to emit all those cracked and random looking notes.

Melissa said...

I have given you an award, at my homeschool blog.

Richard @ The Bewildered Brit said...

What the bird is singing is "Help! Help! This brattish boy (with an unfeasibly large collar) is blowing into my most private regions! Help!"

Lidian said...

Tori - Chicago never disappoints! And yes, it is pretty insulting to birds to think that they would be fooled by this.

Michael - I thought exactly the same thing - that kid needs some sort of help. Syrup of Figs, maybe (they loved things like that for kids back then)

Melissa - Thank you! :)

Richard - That's exactly the song t sings, how did you know?

Relax Max said...

Still enjoying your delicious commentary on these funny old ads. I am enjoying them a lot and finding them very interesting. :)

Bill said...

I'm wondering about the people who dreamed these things up. Were they truly hoping to make their fortunes on products like this, or just trying to pay the bills?

Big Boss: Boys, sales are slack, and we're behind on the rent on this joint. Phone's been cut off, too. We need quick cash, and we need it now. Put on your thinking caps, fellas!
Flunky: Say! I gotta idea...don't we still have a buncha rubber tubes from those squirting neckties that didn't sell?

vanilla said...

Too funny. I had one of these as a child. Hadn't a canary, though. This was just a toy. Air ran through water in the canister, making the "canary" warble, as I recall.

Lidian said...

Max- I'm glad you are! I am enjoying keeping up with you, too - I don't comment much (anywhere) at the moment since am in throes of NaNoWriMonster ;)

Bill - Of course, the tubes must have been left over from the ties!

vanilla - It would be fun as a toy, I would think. But this one seems to have a real Florenz Ziegfeldian agenda :)