Blarney and Baloney: Eight Times Non-Irish Companies Advertised by Putting On the Green
By Amos Staff
While St. Patrick was indubitably Irish (well, by way of Britain) and has a holy day celebrated by the Irish for centuries, St. Patrick’s Day with all its modern festivities, raucousness, and traditions is more American than Irish. As a strong celebration of all things Irish, green, and/or lucky, it was given its current identity from the American-Irish immigrants. Still, St. Patrick’s Day and “Irishness” are very enmeshed in the modern vocabulary and most people believe our current customs tied to the 17th of March belong to the Emerald Isles. One thing is certain, in the twentieth century, putting on the green in the name of capitalism was gnáth (common) for companies from many companies that had not a lot to do with Ireland, aside from marketing.
Here are eight truly craic ones:
From 1941, Kellogg’s Rice Krispies
Also from 1941, Chesterfield Cigarettes
From 1950, Ten-B-Low
1951, Lucky Strike Cigarettes
1950s/early 1960s, Libby’s
Born from the remains of Edwin Perkins’ “Onor-Maid” and ”Fruit Smack,” Kool-Ade was born in 1927. In 1931, this American brand became Kool-Aid. (The Kool-Aid smiling pitcher didn’t appear until 1954; Kool-Aid Man with arms and legs arrived in 1974.) Honoring Perkins, Kool-Aid is still the official drink of Nebraska. Fun facts about this ad? (1) Note again the substitution of 4-leaf clovers in place of the trinitarian shamrock and (2) the subtle incorporation in the note of the Irish names ”Kate” and ”Duffy” and the use of the lucky number seven. Plus, we would like to remind people that the staggering amount of a quart constitutes 32-ounces, the modern Big Gulp or large drink. People back then maybe didn’t hydrate sufficiently or something.
Also 1961, Smirnoff!
1963: Schlitz; Schlitz Brewing Company
Why isn’t Irish Spring soap on here? Irish Spring soap, a Colgate-Palmolive (U.S.) product was first released in Germany in 1970. It followed in the U.S. shortly thereafter. In the mid-80s, the fragrance and formulation were slightly changed. Most of the advertising (“Clean as a Whistle!”) focused on the Irish countryside, not St Patrick’s Day or lucky anything, per se. According to Wikipedia (make of that what you will), most Irish people don’t know what Irish Spring soap is as it isn’t actually sold there. Which, of course it’s not.
In the light of prejudice against the Irish immigrants in the 19th and early 20th century in America, when did Irish heritage become ”acceptable?” It seems that the prejudice against the ”dirty Irish” gradually was supplanted by later immigrant waves from Italy and Eastern Europe. The prejudice against Catholicism (a concomitant prejudice with the Irish) most likely peaked in the 1920s and 1930s with the popularity of the Ku Klux Klan. By the 1960s, the Kennedy family and John F. Kennedy particularly, had ”normalized” Irish-Americans in power and neutralized (mainly through Kennedy’s speech) the fear of Catholics, especially those of Irish extraction.
As of 2021, more than 31.5 million Americans claim Irish ancestry. This is second to German (43 million). Half of the presidents of the United States, including Joe Biden, have heritages that, in part, go back to Ireland.