Mars Inc., est. 1911

Museum Artifact: Snickers Candy Bar Display Box, 1958

Made By: Mars Incorporated, 2019 N. Oak Park Ave, Chicago, IL

“If you like peanuts and chocolate too, then Snick-Snick-Snickers is the bar for you!” –Mars advertising jingle, 1950s

Still consistently ranked among the top ten largest privately owned companies, of any kind, in the world, Mars Incorporated ($35 billion revenue in 2017) stands in stark contrast to most of the cherished but long-defunct Chicago confectioners of yore—a graveyard of ex-rivals that includes Curtiss,

Stewart-Warner Corp., est. 1905

Museum Artifact: Cadet Bicycle Speedometer and Stewart-Warner Television + Stand, 1950s

Made By: Stewart-Warner Corp., 1826 W. Diversey Pkwy, Chicago, IL

“The ‘Cadet’ Bike Speedometer is not a toy! It’s a precision instrument, just like the one on your Dad’s car! It’s made by famous Stewart-Warner, the same company that has made millions of speedometers for cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles.” —Stewart-Warner advertisement,

Ace Fastener Corp., est. 1930

Museum Artifact: Ace Pilot Stapler 404, c. 1950s

Made by: Ace Fastener Corp., 3415 N. Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL

Trying to pinpoint the age of an Ace Pilot stapler—much like trying to figure out the complicated history of the Ace Fastener Company itself—is a bit of an exercise in futility. This stylishly utilitarian 404 model of the Pilot was based on a patent that Ace acquired way back in 1938,

Mastercrafters Clock & Radio Co., est. 1939

Museum Artifact: “Swing Girl” Electronic Mantle Clock, c. 1950

Made By: MasterCrafters Clock & Radio Co., 216 N. Clinton St., Chicago, IL

The MastersCrafters Clock & Radio Company was a literal mom and pop shop through most of its 50 year existence—operated first by Ben Lerman and his wife Kate in the 1940s and ‘50s, then by their daughter Doris and her husband Bernard Ellman into the 1980s.

Monark Silver King, Inc., est. 1934

Museum Artifact: Monark Silver King “Roadster” Girls Bicycle, 1950s

Made By: Monark Silver King, Inc., 6501 W. Grand Ave.

“Now—An Aluminum Bicycle! The same metal which made possible present-day high-speed trains and airplanes, makes the frame of the new-type SILVER KING bicycle. Aluminum alloy—much lighter than steel, but with 3 times the tensile strength, weight for weight. Gives faster speed, greater strength, and snappier appearance.” —advertisement for the first Monark Silver King bicycle,

Hallicrafters Company, est. 1932

Museum Artifact: Hallicrafters Model 5R34A Continental Radio, 1952

Made By: Hallicrafters Company, 4401 W. Fifth Ave., Chicago, IL

“For radio equipment that won’t be satisfied with the limits of the pre-war world, for radio that will go places and do things hitherto undreamed of and uncharted—look to Hallicrafters, builders of the radio man’s radio.”—Hallicrafters magazine advertisement, 1944

William J.

Halsam Products Co. & Elgo Plastics, est. 1917

 

Museum Artifact: Elgo American Plastic Bricks set No. 705 (1950s) and Halsam Double Twelve Club Dominoes (1960s)

Made By: Halsam Products Co., 4114 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL

Upon encountering an old cylindrical cardboard container of “American Plastic Bricks by Elgo,” nine out of ten people are likely to make the same spontaneous assumption—that they’re looking at a cheap knockoff of LEGO.

Gateway Engineering Co., est. 1933

Museum Artifact: Gateway Junior Model NP-1 Sewing Machine, c. 1950

Made By: Gateway Engineering Company / Gateway Erectors, Inc., 233 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL

“The Toy Sewing Machine that really sews!” —1948 advertisement for the Gateway Junior Model

Produced only for a short time from the late 1940s into the 1950s, the Gateway line of toy sewing machines represents a case study in a business making the most out of its extraneous materials.

Turtle Wax, Inc., est. 1941

Museum Artifact: Turtle Wax “Hard Shell Finish” Auto Polish, 1950s

Made By: Plastone Company / Turtle Wax, Inc., 4100 W. Grand Ave. and 1800 N. Clybourn Ave.

On June 4, 1956—just five years after the first bottles of Turtle Wax “Miracle Auto Polish” hit the consumer market—Chicago workmen began installing a new, ludicrously enormous advertisement for the product, situated atop the roof of the Wendell State Bank “Flatiron” Building at the intersection of Madison,

Langson Manufacturing Co. / LMCO, est. 1923

Museum Artifact: LMCO Cody Colt Paper Buster Gun, 1950s

Made By: Langson MFG Co., 4200 W. Wrightwood Ave., Chicago, IL

It might have the look and sound of a typical cowboy-themed cap gun from the 1950s, but there’s something a tad different about the LMCO “Cody Colt”—something that helps distinguish Chicago’s Langson Manufacturing Company from most of the competing toy gun manufacturers of its era.

Mid City Uniform Cap Co. & Citation Hat Corp., est. 1925

Museum Artifacts: CitationBeaver Quality Fedora, c. 1950s, and Mid City Khaki Garrison Cap, 1948

Made By: Citation Hat Corp. / Mid City Uniform Cap Company, 2330 W. Cermak Rd., Chicago, IL

“I hate like hell to praise myself, but at the same time I cannot go away from the truth.” —Harry Lev

In the summer of 1955, Harry “The Hat” Lev—53 year-old owner of the Citation Hat Company,

American Family Scale Co., est. 1928

Museum Artifact: 25 LB Kitchen Scale, c. 1950s

Made by: American Family Scale Co., 515 S. Laflin St., Chicago, IL

A television metaphor might not be entirely apropos for the time period, but when the American Family Scale Company was established in 1928, it was essentially a “spin-off” of Chicago’s venerable American Cutlery Company. In fact, all the classic hallmarks of a TV spin-off were there:

1—The original,

Adjustable Clamp Company, est. 1903

Museum Artifact: Jorgensen Hand Screw Clamps, c. 1950s

Made by: Adjustable Clamp Co., 417 N Ashland Ave., Chicago, IL

Back in 2015, when the Made In Chicago Museum was in its developmental stages, the Adjustable Clamp Company stood out as the rare “feel good” story amidst a sea of shuttered factories, outmoded merchandise, and forgotten dreams. The respected tool manufacturer, which changed its name to Pony Tools in 2013 (adopting the title of one of its’ long-running brands),

Permo Inc. / Fidelitone, est. 1929

Museum Artifacts: Fidelitone Master and Supreme Phonograph Needles and All-Groove Needle Counter Display, 1950s

Made By: Permo, Inc. / Fidelitone, Inc., 6415 N. Ravenswood Ave., Chicago, IL

Still in business today and headquartered just an hour north of Chicago in the small town of Wauconda, Illinois (Wauconda Forever!), Fidelitone Inc. is technically the same company that Arthur J. Olsen started way back in 1929,

Admiral Corp., est. 1934

Museum Artifact: Admiral Deluxe Table Radio, 1955

Made by: Admiral Corp., 3800 West Cortland Street, Chicago, IL

“Here’s a radio you’ll get a tremendous thrill out of owning! So smart, with its golden-mesh metal grille and dial . . . so contrasting in choice of Ivory, Beige, Green or Mahogany cabinet colors. So low-priced for the performance it gives! This is the new radio you have been looking for!”