Monday, October 12, 2009

Telephone Eliminates Horseradish Shortage

In 1931 Ypsilanti, not everyone had a phone.

But housewives who did could simply call in their daily or several-times-weekly grocery order, which was delivered to their kitchen table. They could go and buy it in person, too, but calling was ever so much more convenient.

For those without phones, local grocery stores sent around boys every day to knock on doors and collect orders, which were delivered by truck later in the day. Ypsilanti grocery stores cooperated on this delivery plan in order to reduce the hideous inefficiency of this system. They didn't reduce it enough, however, to compete with the new low-priced "cash and carry" A&P which opened during WWII and doomed the many little groceries scattered around town.

This Michigan Bell ad appeals to the housewives without phones who forgot, perhaps several times, to mention something to the kid who took their grocery order at the door, and then had to do without a crucial ingredient. Despite it being the Depression, the large size of this ad implies that the phone company was taking plenty of orders for this revolutionary new home appliance that today we take for granted.

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