May 22nd in Seal Beach History

On this date in 1917, the following ad ran in the Los Angeles Times listing vendors that carried Christopher’s “always dependable Ice Cream.”

What is this ad’s connection to Seal Beach history? Two “wide-awake Merchants” in the vendor list were located in Seal Beach. The Seal Beach Concessions Company, which ran the amusement zone on the east side of the pier, and the Seal Beach Drug Company, located on Main Street.

The Christopher’s ice cream brand started as ice cream parlor in Los Angeles in the 1890s, expanded to offering their ice cream in concession stands at fairs and exhibitions in the late 1890s, and then shifted to supplying ice cream to drug stores, ice cream parlors, and stands throughout Southern California around the turn of the century.

There are hundreds of Christopher’s newspaper ads during the first three decades of the twentieth century, many of them as well designed and exquisitely drawn as the one in this post. The company that brought the “Cream of Health” to Seal Beach in 1917 seems to have faded away in the late twenties, perhaps bought out by a larger brand.

– Michael Dobkins


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5 Responses to May 22nd in Seal Beach History

  1. Wide-awake is the forerunner of todays woke, maybe.

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  2. Michael Dobkins says:

    Yeah, that bit of ad copy was a head scratcher. Wide-Awake is also a hat style. Who knew?

    (lonndoggie? Does this mean your a Gidget fan?)

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  3. I’m woke about the history of wide-awake now, as much as one can be!

    Sure, we’re all Gidget fans, but that’s not the origin of that.

    Back in high school (HBHS for us Seal Beach Kids then), there was a DJ on KROQ (I think) named Frazer (sp?) Smith, a comedian who played music. He referred to everyone as dog, so, somehow, unique to our group of friends, I became Londog. Later, my license plate became Lonndog, because Londog was already taken (I once spotted the truck on the I-5/I-405 split heading north!). And lonndoggie because londog and lonndog were also taken as user names in various places.

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  4. In “…everyone as dog…”, dog should be be FIRSTSYLLABLEOFFIRSTNAMEdog. I’d put it in angle-brackets that got snipped out as possibly an html injection. Oops.

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  5. Michael Dobkins says:

    Here’s the wiki-awake lowdown on Frazer Smith. You can also find Frazer Smith DJ recordings on YouTube.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frazer_Smith

    I spent a few minutes trying to trace the etymology of “wide-awake” and was surprised to discover it reaches back deep into the nineteenth century. I didn’t have time to really dig into it, but it seems to roughly mean modern, up-to-date, forward thinking withing a business or civic improvement context. Wide-awake was often paired with “progressive,” not in the political definition of the word as it is used today, but as a way of describing something or someone who is progress-oriented. I think there’s a shading to the “wide-awake” adjective that also relates to cities vs. rural and industrial growth, but I don’t have the spare hours to hunt this down.

    Still, it’s fascinating. I could have spent an entire day on “wide-awake” and clipping Christoper’s ice cream ads and researching the company.

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