Friday, January 28, 2011

Will The Real Mrs Stewart Please Stand Up?

As many a by-gone 'house wife' could tell you, it was the problem of the ages. How to get those 'whites' really white! Al Stewart was a traveling salesman in the 1870s. One thing he always carried in his bag of goods was a bottle of a liquid bluing solution that was guaranteed to whiten those whites. He made the concoction at home using a formula he had come by. The first bottles produced were of hand-blown glass, corked off, and sealed with wax. The label was a hand written one, and pasted on the bottle by hand. In the 1880s, an investor helped him improve this product. He was advised to put a photo of an older woman on the bottle. A granny figure, since everyone loves their granny.

Well, he got in trouble with his wife when he asked to use her picture. She refused. So, he got a picture of his mother-in-law, and used her on his label. The image was of a rather stern-looking granny. Over the coming years, as sales increased, it was determined that Mrs. Stewart needed a 'make-over'. A friendlier looking modern granny. So, they replaced grim granny with a silver haired, smiling granny complete with a stylish hair-do. Well, the many fans of the product would have nothing to do with that. They sent letters of protest demanding to have their original granny back. And so, now, many years later, the original grim granny prevails, even though the product has evolved in other ways. Currently it is sold in plastic bottles featuring grim granny's stern glare!


  1. We had an old bottle of that stuff kicking around when I was a kid, and as I remember it ours had the modern granny. Wish we'd kept it as a curiosity!