Beer Advertisements in Cold War Era

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The 1950’s are considered a decade of simplicity for most Americans. While the country was experiencing economic and social growth most American felt at home with them selves. Family stability was monumental, and the formation of the suburbs created an urban working class associated with a rural family atmosphere. Americans were leaving work to arrive home and be free and independent within their own ideas of security. During this period the American family was much more than just security, it was seen as the beacon of democracy, and the social glue of America. Another idea that matched family was consumerism, and Americans where buying. Everything from cars to house décor that represented status in commercialized America. In what came to be known as the Kitchen Debates Vice-President Richard Nixon said about the American home exhibit: “You will see a house, a car, a television set-each the newest and most modern of its type we produce. But can only the rich in the United States afford such things? If this were the case we would have to include in our definition of rich the millions of America’s Wage earners.”(pg 163)

Americans during 1950’s were living typical industrious lives that centered a round work, family and consumerism. The middle class was growing, and men and women were marrying not only for love but for security. Coupled with patriotism and security the role of the American home took on more than that of a house, but was the center of American strength and democracy. A symbol of status, the home was the center of all things considered to be American; consumer goods, values, and most importantly security. Beer, an American tradition as old as the country itself, had just been reintroduced to the American market not even twenty years early after the failure of prohibition, and its advertisements reflect the social view of the Patriotism. In a 1950’s run of advertisements by the United States Brewers foundation, that all use the catch phrase “Beer belongs…enjoy it” which is not meant to sale a specific beer, just beer itself. The advertisers show a ship entering New York harbor with the Statue of Liberty shining brightly in the background. (insert ad)

Yet Prohibition came about because of the negative social perception of the saloon. During earlier American periods drinking was viewed as a male dominated activity that excluded anything resembling decency. Women in the early part of the twentieth century viewed male drinking as a plague to the American household. In fact, male drinking stigmas gave rise to many women’s movements and created a culture where women often had to face the drudgery of maintaining a home and supporting the family economically. Women’s “speak easies” and underground clubs changed the previous gender role of women as entirely innocent and pure. So when the cold-war family began to immerge, and political as well as social factors changed the dynamic of the household to a place of security, status and expression and brewing companies tried to infiltrate the home with their product. In her book Homeward Bound , Elaine Tyler May says about the American home “ The family seemed to be the one place where people could control their destinies..” in a time where men and women felt the fear of nuclear fall-out and economic ruin. Since the great depression was not even twenty years behind them, and the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagaski were still fresh, Americans feared much more than “fear itself.” While women had taken over many male dominated roles during WWII, and felt to some degree emancipated, that was short lived and women had to return to their former roles. In the 1950’s women were seen as an extension to the man of the house, not only in the public eye but to themselves as well. In many cases society at large lost respect for a man who was unemployed or earned less than his better half. In a KLS research poll it showed that while “75 pecent” believed in...
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