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.
When I think of the holiday that most represents the 1950’s decade, I personally think of Easter. This might simply be because of the fashions of the era. Formal frocks, hats, gloves, suits, ties, all the “Sunday Best”. But also I think it’s the happy, romantic feeling of Spring itself that makes me associate Easter with the 1950’s.
Dressing up on Easter was an absolute must in the 1950’s. While some people still dress up to go to Church on Easter Sunday, it’s a far cry from the formal wear you would see on Easter Sunday in the 1950’s. Men, women and children would wear their absolute best clothing from head to toe and attend Easter Services. Then they would spend the rest of the day visiting with family.
As always, Easter was a time for goodies. Candies, cakes and cookies. Here are a few ads from the 1950’s decade which advertise Easter treats:
The first one is a Whitman’s Sampler ad from The Saturday Evening Post, dated April 1, 1950. Easter was on April 9th that year, which was also Carl Perkins’s 18th Birthday! (Carl Perkins hits “Honey Don’t” and “Blue Suede Shoes” came out 6 years later.)
The next one is another Whitman’s Sampler ad from a few years later. That year, Easter was April 5th, 1953. Note their sloagan: “A Woman Never Forgets The Man Who Remembers.” I guess men had trouble remembering holidays even back then!
Next is a great cake recipe, you may have seen before, an ad for Swans Down Golden Yellow Cake Mix. It features a bright and cheerful Easter Egg with layers of chocolate frosting and jellybeans. This one is a classic. Also it proves that cake mix goes back to at least 1953, but I don’t see any instant frosting.
This next ad is interesting in that I have never seen gingerbread for Easter. To me it is exclusively for Christmas. But have a look at this big gingerbunny cookie in this ad for Duff’s Gingerbread Mix. This 1951 ad tells you to trace the bunny on cardboard to get the shape to make the cookies. Which begs the question, when were cookie cutters invented?
Finally, we have Bugs Bunny in an ad for Brach’s Candy in 1958. Those cherry cordial creme eggs look good! Why don’t they still make those?
Cards and Greetings
Cards from the 1950’s era were so cute and today are sought-after collectibles. Here are a few from some Easters Past:
All across America, Easter was celebrated in major cities (as well as smaller towns) with a parade. Irving Berlin even wrote a song about it. Here’s the cover of a 1956 Children’s Record:
Like today and all the years in-between, children looked forward to dying Easter eggs. Here is an early egg-dying kit. I’m not sure what year it was from, exactly, but it looks old and dispels my former belief that kids had to use the juice from berries from the forest if they wanted to dye eggs in the 1950s.
I don’t know what year the Easter Basket tradition began, but it turns out that it goes back even farther than the 1950’s! I found a photo of little Donnie and Phillip Everly (ages 4 and 2, respectively) with their Easter baskets. But I’m not gonna post it because it was from 1941, nearly a decade before The Best Era Ever!
Here, however, are two pretty young gals -definitely from the 1950’s- with their bunnies and baskets. I find it interesting that instead of a chocolate bunny, the baskets have what appear to be chocolate chickens in them!
Well that’s it for this Holiday edition of Life in the 50’s. Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed it.
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