The cute lady in the eye-catching dress seems to be touting Birdseye products. The 1948 photo was captured in a Daylight Grocery in Jacksonville. Above the refrigeration unit, the sign reads, “Win $2,000 in Philco Freezers filled with 50 pkgs of Birdseye Frozen Foods. 6 Philco Freezers will be given away at Hemming Park Nov. 24th at 7:30 pm.”
Using a valuable antique for supermarket samples? Some interesting recollections come from a long-time Jax resident who demonstrated food products around 1950. (She would like to remain unidentified.) As a young mother, she was on call by various companies to sell or give away their items in local grocery stores. Her duties included the plugging of Canada Dry and Copeland Meats at Setzer’s and Winn-Dixie. According to the lady, an older customer became all worked up one Christmas at the A & P Supermarket in the Lakewood/San Jose area. The reason? The plate that the demonstrator used for fruitcake samples as she handed out cups of eggnog. The demonstrator had borrowed the platter from her own grandmother, and the customer claimed the plate was a scarce old relic. Indeed, the customer didn’t relent until the demonstrator promised to take the dish back home at lunch.
Ten dollars a day was what the demonstrator made when she first started, with no commissions for the items sold or given away. (Considering inflation, this is roughly $75 in current currency.) Her wages eventually grew to $25 a day, though. She usually worked on Fridays and Saturdays, and the companies provided her two or three days notice before she was to go to a supermarket. A white uniform was the standard dress.
Dog food and laundry detergent didn’t go over too well, recalls the former demonstrator. The canine chow was packed in bags too large for people to buy as samples. And the timing wasn’t right for the detergent. According to the demonstrator, people gave more thought to clothes washing on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning, rather than on Friday or Saturday. The companies for which she worked, however, just wouldn’t listen.
After living in Jacksonville for more than seventy-five years, the former demonstrator is still going strong, mowing her yard with a push lawnmower. Indeed, the info in this section came from an hour-long phone interview on her 85th birthday.
~written by Glenn Emery