B. Heller & Co., est. 1894

Museum Artifact: $1000 Guaranteed Moth Killer, 1928

Made By: B. Heller & Co. / Chicago Insecticide Laboratory, S. Calumet Ave. and E. 40th St., Chicago, IL

“We guarantee that $1,000.00 Guaranteed Moth Killer will kill clothes moths—and carpet beetles and their eggs and larvae—when it is thoroughly sprayed upon them, and agree to forfeit $1,000.00 to anyone proving to us that it cannot do this.” —Chicago Insecticide Company,

Citrus Products Co., est. 1919

Museum Artifact: Kist Beverages Soda Bottle, c. 1940s

Made By: Citrus Products Co., 11 E. Hubbard St., Chicago, IL

Most Notable Factoid: In 1933, the vice president of Citrus Products fired a gun at his own wife (and missed) after he saw her kissing the president of the company at a party.

Best known for its “Kist” brand of carbonated beverages,

Zeno MFG Co., est. 1890

Museum Artifact: Zeno Chewing Gum Coin-Op Vending Machine, 1908

Made By: Zeno MFG Co., 150-160 W. Van Buren St., Chicago, IL

It’s been more than 100 years since someone first dropped a penny into this porcelain-enameled steel vending machine, jonesing for a fresh stick of “elegant” Zeno chewing gum. By no coincidence, most awareness of the Zeno Manufacturing Company itself has long since been spat from the public consciousness and trampled over by time,

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.

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,

L. H. Thomas Co., est. 1863

Museum Artifact: Thomas Black Ink Paper Bottle and Price List, 1890s

Made By: L. H. Thomas Co., 7059 N. Clark Street and 921 Fulton Street, Chicago, IL

“In the considerable number of fountain pen inks on the market, none are more strongly intrenched among the trade’s ‘best sellers’ than the packages which bear the Black Cat trade mark of the L.

J. W. Allen & Co., est. 1881

Museum Artifact: J. W. Allen Baking Supply Pail, c. 1940s

Made By: J. W. Allen & Co., 110 N. Peoria St., Chicago, IL

“Our building in Chicago has come to be known as the acknowledged ‘Bakers’ Headquarters.’ We carry in stock and ready for immediate delivery practically everything required for the Baking Industry. This assures our customers with dependable service.”—J.

Sanford Ink Company, est. 1857

Museum Artifact: Sanford’s Ink Eraser by Sanford MFG Co., c. 1910s

Made By: Sanford MFG Co. / Sanford Ink Company, 846-854 W. Congress Street, Chicago, IL

“Have you handled Sanford’s ink eraser yet? Every office needs it and every stationer should carry it in stock. It does the work of erasing ink from paper and stains from cloth perfectly. It is put up in a handsome round corner package and is made by the Sanford Manufacturing Company,

Gold Eagle Products Co., est. 1932

Museum Artifact: Gold Eagle Radiator Seal, c. 1940s

Made By: Gold Eagle Products Co., 1050 W. Kinzie Street, Chicago, IL

In the early 1990s, when a lot of Chicago’s remaining “mom and pop” manufacturing businesses were reluctantly cashing in their chips, the family-owned Gold Eagle Company was bucking the trends—50% annual revenue growth, to be specific, with tailwinds into the 21st century.

Hammond Organ Company, est. 1928

Museum Artifact: Hammond Organ Generator Oil Can, 1960s

Made By: Hammond Organ Co., 4200 W. Diversey Ave., Chicago, IL

“Smaller than a piano, a midget in comparison with the vast pipe organs of traditional style, yet capable of 253 million different tones; this is the electric organ invented by Laurens Hammond of Chicago.” —Popular Mechanics, April 1936

It’s hard to say how a musical instrument capable of producing millions of different tones could simultaneously be “distinctive”

Claire MFG Co., est. 1913

Museum Artifact: Jinx Cleaner, c. 1920s

Made By: Claire MFG Co., 6742 S. Yale Avenue, Chicago, IL

In 1927, Chicago municipal court judge Theodore F. Ehler—presiding during the height of mob warfare and corruption—made headlines for the unusual sentences he started imposing on a less romanticized element of the city’s criminal underbelly: deadbeat husbands.

Rather than sending these sad sacks off to jail,

Calumet Baking Powder Company, est. 1889

Museum Artifact: Calumet Baking Powder Tin, c. 1913

Made By: Calumet Baking Powder Co., 4100 W Fillmore St., Chicago, IL

This five-pound canister of Calumet Baking Powder might seem like a cute artifact from a old-timey diner or a small town general store, but make no mistake, you’re looking at a relic from a war . . . the Baking Powder War.

Dad’s Root Beer Co., est. 1937

Museum Artifact: Unopened Dad’s Root Beer “Mama” Bottle, 1960s

Made By: Dad’s Root Beer Co., 2800 N. Talman Avenue, Chicago, IL

“It’s a completely new idea! Genuine draft root beer in bottles!”

When Dad’s Root Beer creators Ely Klapman and Barney Berns rolled out their first big national ad campaign in 1941, they did so with an immediate contradiction in terms—a “completely new” thing was also promoted as the “old fashioned” root beer.

Addressograph Company, est. 1892

Museum Artifact: Addressograph Print Ribbon Tins, 1920s

Made by: The Addressograph Company, 915 W. Van Buren St., Chicago, IL

While the terrific 1920s ornamentation suggests something rare and precious, these small ribbon tins were more like the printer ink cartridges of their day; stacked in office storage rooms to keep a business’s addressograph machine up and running. What’s an addressograph, you ask? Why,

Wander Company (US), est. 1917

Museum Artifact: Ovaltine “Food Beverage” Tin, 1921

Made By: The Wander Company, 37 S. Wabash Ave. (HQ), Factory at 1 Ovaltine Court, Villa Park

Research is underway on this one and a full write-up will be coming soon.