Life In The 50’s: Contests and Giveaways


Retro Dee is a regular contributor to The Grooveyard’s website, writing about music, fashion and other trends of the 1950s.  Check out her blog, Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever here, and her column here every week.

The 1950’s was the era that companies began to promote their products with a very basic concept: Give Away Free Stuff! This has always been a good tactic to get customers to pay attention to your product.

Now, the 1950’s was the not the first decade to do this, but it was certainly the one where the concept took off running. The war was over, people had money and were living the good life. Families loved going on vacation, women liked having items for their homes, and kids enjoyed more toys and gadgets than ever before. So the idea of winning something was super appealing!

Everywhere you looked, it seemed there was an advertisement for a nifty new contest. Let’s have a look at some of them:

This first one, you might’ve seen while looking up old advertisements. But by golly, it must have been exciting for kids across the nation: “The Big Popsicle Contest!”

Popcicle Pops Doodle Contest ad, 1957

Yes! When I saw that prop plane and the eye-catching announcement: “Hey Kids… Fly to a NY or California Vacation!” I knew this was no dinky giveaway. With 150 trips to win, Popsicle also offered an assortment of fabulous 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Prizes: Monaco watches, Columbia View Masters, Spartus “Press Flash” Cameras and 3,000 Hohner Harmonicas! Gee whiz!

Now, if you notice, (on the right side of the ad) kids had to create their own “Pops Doodle” to enter! This meant pasting a “sicle” dot that you got off the box to a piece of paper and then drawing your own picture around it. Very creative. Oh! And don’t forget to get your entries in on time. Entries must not be postmarked later than midnight, August 3, 1957.

This next contest from a few years earlier was targeted towards housewives: “Modglin’s exciting Dura-Broom Sweepstakes!”

Dura-Broom Sweepstakes?

That’s right! Dura-Broom Sweepstakes! YOU could win a trip to Mexico on American Airlines DC 6 Flagship (which could travel up to 300 mph)! And if you don’t win that, there are more prizes… Second Prize: a Luxurious Mink Coat, made out of genuine natural mink skins! Don’t blame me, I wasn’t even born yet! Third prize: a set of complete Service for 8 by National Silver Company in the Margaret Rose Pattern! Fourth Prize: a Diamond Studded 14K gold watch by Helbros! Some of the remaining prizes included: a set of Amelia Earhart Fine Luggage, 25 sets of Dawnville Dress Gloves and 25 Evan’s Magic Lamp Table Lighters! Wow!

Dura-Broom Sweepstakes, 1953

All you had to do to enter is complete the sentence on the entry blank in 25 words or less… “I like my new Dura-Broom because…” Hmm… let’s see, let’s see… I know: “I like my new Dura-Broom because I complete housework with enough time left to make myself pretty before cooking supper for my husband so he won’t run off with his secretary.” Perfect! I just know I’d win with that entry!

This next contest was probably targeted towards the Man of The House: General Plastic’s “Win A Trip To Anywhere In The World!” This is assuming that everywhere in the world had been discovered by the 1950’s, and I’m not sure it was. (little Millennial joke there) All right, so for this contest all ya had to do was beautify your car by purchasing a set of plastic seat covers and fill in the official entry form. I think. It’s too small to read the fine print. Anyway. This contest began on May 1, 1956.

General Plastics contest ad which started on May 1, 1956

This next contest sponsored by Folgers coffee is also Man-Oriented and features the world-famous author and cat lover extraordinaire, Ernest Hemingway! This contest gaveaway 800 Big Boy Barbecues! FREE!

Folger’s Barbecue Giveaway featuring Ernest Hemingway, ca. 1950s

All you had to do is complete the statement “More people drink Folger’s Coffee because…” in 25 additional words or less. I don’t have an entry for this one. I only drink Starbucks Coffee and I’m pretty sure it didn’t exist yet. But I digress… Oh, along with your written entry, you had to include 1 band from a Folger’s jar or a label from a jar of instant Folger’s. And then it reminds you to listen to Hemingway’s Radio News, whatever that was.

Alrighty. The next contest also features a popular celebrity of the day: Perry Como! In… “Perry Como’s $150,000 NOXZEMA ‘Be Beautiful’ Contest”!!!

This one’s SUPER nifty! The ten top winners would get a 1957 Air-conditioned SUPER 88 OLDSMOBILE! Heck, I know a lot of folks who would love to have one of those now!

Perry Como Noxzema “Be Beautiful” Contest ad, 1956

And have a look at the other prizes! 40 winners win an RCA Victor Big COLOR TV Set! 120 winners would get an RCA Victor “Wayfarer” portable TV set! 350 winners would receive a Men’s and Ladies’ Longines Watch and 349 winners (that’s an odd number) will win that Amelia Earhart luggage again.

Now folks, Perry’s contest had a special way to enter too. The directions say: “Married or Single, complete this jingle.” Hmmm. The jingle begins:

“Grow lovelier day after day
The NOXZEMA Be Beautiful way.
You’ll always be merry
If you listen to Perry…

All right, so you gotta finish the last line yourself and it’s gotta rhyme. How about…

“Grow lovelier day after day
The NOXZEMA Be Beautiful way.
You’ll always be merry
If you listen to Perry
‘Cause Perry’s the Man of the day!”

That’s it! Brilliant! I would enter, but the deadline is really expired.

So let’s check out this next one. Here’s a contest for the whole family. It’s “Post Cereal’s Roy Rogers Family Contest!”

YEE-HAW! In the 1950’s, Roy Rogers was King of the Cowboys. And this contest was the King of the Contests! You could win one of 4 Willy’s Jeeps! Or one of 50 Second Prizes, a Bell and Howell Movie Camera and Matching Projector. Or one of 100 Third Prizes, a Columbia Bicycle!

Post Cereal’s Roy Rogers Family Contest

To enter, just finish this statement in 25 words or less: “My family’s favorite Post cereal is… Because…” Well, I’d have to think about that. Meanwhile, let’s move on to the last ad.

The final ad I have for this post is from 1954. It’s in black and white, but I just had to include it. “Name The Purina Pup!”

Name The Purina Pup contest, 1954

Aww, what a cutie! All you had to do is think up a good name for him and you could win one of 363 valuable prizes! Including the 1st Prize which was a Ford V-8 Wagon! Other prizes included: 5 Mossberg target rifles and 20 Auto ice boxes. Wow, I don’t even know what that is!

Note when naming the pup, remember that “Buddy” was still a person’s name in those days! So you might wanna pick something else like “Fido”. Ha! Also, remember to include a Seal of Quality from the Purina Dog Chow bag with your entry. Make certain that your entry is in by November 30, 1954. Send your entry to (not really, but the address was):

Name-The-Puppy Contest
Box 7104
Chicago 77, ILL.

See how the zip code is only 2 numbers and comes before the state abbreviation? That was common in addresses in those days! Weird, huh?


Well that’s it for this edition of Life in the 50’s! Thank you for reading. I hope you had fun!

For more posts about the 1950’s, stay tuned and please follow Retro Dee’s Guide to the Best Era Ever on WordPress. You can also follow Retro Dee on Twitter @RealRetroDee and Instagram @mariepascal82


Listen to “The Grooveyard” following “Rick’s Redneck Ranch” each Saturday night at 7 PM on 88.1 FM on Long Island or by clicking the 88.1 FM link on wcwp.org, via the TuneIn app. or the  WCWP app on your iPhone or Android device.  You can also follow us on Twitter. and on the Facebook groups for the show and WCWP.

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