Vintage food advertising: a culinary tour through European newspapers

Our newspapers collection includes more than 4 million newspaper issues from around 20 countries.

It shows the headlines and reporting from four centuries’ historical moments such as the sinking of the Titanic. Alongside these great moments from history are more everyday occurrences.

Looking at adverts in newspapers through time, we can get a sense of the daily lives people across Europe led, what we ate, drank and how we enjoyed our leisure time.

This blog takes a short culinary trip around Europe, through vintage food and drink advertisements in digitised newspapers on Europeana Newspapers.

We start, like many good meals, with an apéritif. This advert appeared in the French newspaper Oeust-Eclair newspaper in May 1937.

Ouest Eclair, 5 May 1937, Bibliothèque nationale de France, No Copyright – Other Known Legal Restrictions

Skipping straight to our main course, we’re going to have potatoes. This advert for potatoes appeared in Kurier Warszawski, a Polish newspaper from the collections of the National Library of Poland, in October 1916. Reinberg sells potatoes at a store or for home delivery – years before online shopping, very forward-thinking!

Butter is a traditional accompaniment for potatoes. In this meal, we’ll have kunstbutter – directly translated as art butter. We know it now more as margarine. This advert is from the Brixener Chronik, the newspaper of a
a town in South Tyrol in northern Italy. It dates from March 1925.

After our main course, a night cap? Some champagne would be lovely. How about Monopole Champagne? This was advertised in Estonian newspaper Kaja in December 1922 – perfect for a seasonal celebration.

Or perhaps a liqueur? Wiener Liqueur, by a company called Reisinger is one of the best, and acknowledged across Europe – so says their advertisement. This appeared in Die Presse in October 1854.

A hot drink to finish? This advert for tea appeared in Finnish newspaper Wiipuri in 1908. The tea is available in well-stocked bundles, each one inspected and certified by the Chemical and Seed Inspectorate of the Agricultural Society of Wiipuri Bay.

To prepare for a good night’s sleep, how about hot chocolate? This advert is for Kufferle Cocoa, the most well-known, freshest and cheapest cocoa on the market. The advert for the four-gold-medal-winning cocoa appeared in Bozner Zeitung in December 1894.

After all this rich food and drink, we may need to think of our teeth. Thankfully, advertised on the same newspaper page as Cacao Kufferle, we find this lovely toothpaste advertisement.

By Adrian Murphy, Europeana Foundation

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