Wednesday, August 10, 2011

This Magic Disc

Popular Mechanics, Feb. 1932 [big version]
Years ago I was in Elkhart, Indiana overnight because we were driving across the US and it was on the route. So we stayed in a mote. Didn't sightsee or anything. It was one of those get-up-in-the-morning-and-drive-all-day trips. So I can't really tell you anything except that I learned that Elkhart is the band instrument capital of the world. I don't play any band instruments, so did not pursue the matter.

Of course what I should have looked into was the Amazing Magic Disc, which came from Elkhart in the 1930s. Because who wouldn't love something that hands you $30 (and more, it says - I like the sound of more) in cash every single day? None of my kitchen implements do that!

Popular Mechanics, October 1931
Now what they mean, of course, is more prosaic. Go out and sell the Disc and you will make $30 a day! It looks like you plugged it in and stuck it in a pot of water.  Another one of these ads says, in purple prose:

What strange element is hidden in this curious disc which makes people gasp when they see it placed in a pan of water - a dish, a boiler, a bath tub - and in split seconds amazingly produce Boiling, Sizzling, Steaming Hot Water...

Well yes, they'll be gasping all right if they get in a tub of boiling, sizzling, steaming hot water and start cooking like a dumpling in a pot of soup. And then they reach for the soap and hey look, it's red! Hmm, organic strawberry soap - and in the 1930s. That's interesting. Possibly anachronistic. But wait, that's not soap...

This sounds altogether dangerous to me. I think you'd want to be laying in a supply of asbestos gloves and first aid supplies. And even then, I think I'd just prefer to use the stove. And also: someone should tell the lady in the black and white ad that setting a boiling pot on a counter is - well, counterproductive. I guess she can use that $30 a day to replace the counter.

5 comments:

DrJulieAnn aka The Modern Retro Woman said...

So I guess this was the early version of that immersion gizmo I had in my office to heat up my tea in less than a minute? I'd never use it in my bathtub, though. I guess these guys never watched those movies where the bad guys would through an electric heater into the tub to kill someone...

Elkhart is also the capitol of RV's. At least it used to be before all heck broke loose on Wall Street. (I think my sister went to seminary in Elkhart but maybe I'm thinking of Goshen)

DrJulieAnn aka The Modern Retro Woman said...

that should be *throw* not *through*...

vanilla said...

Oh, oh! reminds me of the time I set a hot pot on the formica counter top. BOOM! anyway, Anyone who could make $31 a day at anything in 1931 could live pretty high on the hog!

DearHelenHartman said...

Love your blog - so glad I ran across it today, especially since I can be making $31 a day now that I'm clued into the wonders of the magic disc!

Gregorian said...

I just have this horrific image of someone selling these thing door to door for their $30 a day, and then weeks later hearing of a string of fatal electrocutions along the streets they visited.