Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » For All You Cleon Skousen Fans

For All You Cleon Skousen Fans

By: Ardis E. Parshall - January 05, 2009

From a series of 1959 ads featuring then-famous (now mostly forgotten) Mormons/Utahns —



  1. Awesome find, Ardis. I say this as a Postum fan and not a Skousen fan.

    Where did this ad run?

    And I’m intrigued by the idea of hospitality/friendship. Was Postum being positioned as something kosher (so-to-speak) to serve to your coffee drinking friends?

    Comment by Wm Morris — January 5, 2009 @ 11:20 am

  2. This ran in the Improvement Era, Wm.

    Most of the ads, as I recall (I don’t have them in front of me right now, but it’s worth checking), were simply touting the usual familiar virtues of Postum. I don’t remember a particular pitch toward serving it to friends who ordinarily would be drinking coffee — I’ll check, though.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2009 @ 11:23 am

  3. Cool ad, Ardis. The scene is a bit surreal, though. A favorite, popular, political radical sipping his hot, soothing, and friendly coffee substitute (whole grain of course) next to men with guns and menacing looking attack dogs. Classic. And, like WM, I too miss Postum. Pero is pretty good, but not quite the same. Haven’t tried any others yet.

    Comment by Guy Murray — January 5, 2009 @ 11:31 am

  4. Ah, Cleon Skousen. I was struck at how small and diminutive he looks in this photo compared to the other officers. (I’ve only ever seen his mug on the inside cover of books.)

    What a funny picture, in general. I mean, whenever I’m out at the canine training grounds, I *always* break out the tea cups and have a l’il Postum, don’t you?

    Comment by Hunter — January 5, 2009 @ 11:40 am

  5. I love these looks back to the (unknown me) rich legacy of Mormon ads.

    However, use caution posting about Postum. I did a mere sidelink to William’s Postum post in #1 and have been getting intermittent comments ever since from heartbroken postum fans looking for blackmarket sellers, recipes, etc.

    One of my highest commented posts. Of course, that may say something about my own blog too.

    Comment by David H. Sundwall — January 5, 2009 @ 11:41 am

  6. The title just about drove me off–but that’s a terrific ad.

    As a Postum-hater, it warms my heart to see that Bro. Skousen was as wrong about hot drinks as he was about so many other things!

    Comment by Mark B. — January 5, 2009 @ 11:43 am

  7. It’s all about Postum and Twilight, David. That’s where all of AMV’s traffic comes from. Everything else is just there for show.

    Comment by Wm Morris — January 5, 2009 @ 11:47 am

  8. Ardis, I might like this one as much as the garment ads.

    The picture is priceless. I don’t know if the idea of combining a tea set and police dogs has crossed my mind before seeing this ad – and I hope it never does again. :)

    Oh, and the “100% coffee-free” made me chuckle.

    “So many leading citizens do.” There is that.

    Comment by Ray — January 5, 2009 @ 12:10 pm

  9. Someone told me Postum is selling for good money on eBay. I just gave away an old jar to a friend of mine.

    Also, if Ardis has posted old garment ads, I’d like find a link. I have a family connection to some of them.

    Comment by David — January 5, 2009 @ 12:30 pm

  10. David, the easiest way to find previous posts is to click on the “Topical Guide” link in the upper left-hand corner of the page, and search or scroll through. Since the word “garments” is part of that post title, you’ll find it.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2009 @ 1:10 pm

  11. On the twenty fourth of July one summer in the 70’s when I was a kid, my family happened to be positioned in front of Cleon Skousen’s house to watch the Days of 47 parade. Because of the heat and the number of wilting small children in our family, he invited us up on his porch to watch the parade. My parents were pleased with their brush with fame. We had all of his religious books, but none of his political ones. My parents were thinking more about the programmatic design of history and the impending Millenium than the evils of communism. Unlike the ad we were all offered lemonade, no postum in sight. He was very nice to us and it is a fond memory to me of a kind stranger. In my childhood world, Salt Lake really was the best place on earth.

    Comment by plvmetz — January 5, 2009 @ 2:10 pm

  12. I wonder if Seattle’s Police Chief Kerlekowske can moonlight in Starbucks ads?

    Ad subtitle: “Cleon Skousen, he doesn’t pack heat, just hot Postum!”

    Comment by kevinf — January 5, 2009 @ 2:12 pm

  13. “Cleon Skousen, he doesn’t pack heat, just hot Postum!”

    …with dainty little tea cups, of course!

    Comment by Hunter — January 5, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

  14. Crook your little finger when you say that, Hunter!

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — January 5, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

  15. Awesome, awesome find, Ardis.

    Comment by Christopher — January 5, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

  16. I was expecting your post to be comment-free. Who admits to being a Skousen fan these days? (Besides my husband, of course.)

    Comment by Jami — January 5, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

  17. […] Finally: The Macbook Wheel» It all went downhill from 1912.» For All You Cleon Skousen FansChris H. – this is for you.» Harry Reid Saved the Iraq […]

    Pingback by Shared Items - 5 January 2009 | A Soft Answer — January 5, 2009 @ 10:01 pm

  18. Wow, the only thing missing from that surreal guns-n-GIANT-dogs delicate tea party is a few barbies and teddy bears. Nice find, Ardis.

    Comment by sister blah 2 — January 5, 2009 @ 10:32 pm

  19. One of my children happened to see this post up yesterday evening, and the child in question wondered why that “criminal-looking guy” was serving drinks to the cops.

    That comment left me speechless, and still does, so it will have to stand by itself with no further commentary from me.

    Comment by Researcher — January 6, 2009 @ 8:39 am

  20. Roasted barley makes a nice mild drink. Roast your own, or buy it in tea-bags at Asian grocery stores.

    But yeah, I can see some entrepreneuring LDS buy the formula and brand name of Postum and start making it again.

    Comment by Bookslinger — January 6, 2009 @ 9:49 am

  21. If your kids lived in New York, they’d know exactly why the criminal-looking guys were in bed with the cops!

    Comment by Mark B. — January 6, 2009 @ 10:24 am

  22. I could go for a cup right now

    Comment by Mark — January 7, 2009 @ 8:51 am

  23. In honor of this I opened up an old jar of Postum and used it all up last night. I made my kids taste it so they knew what it was.

    Comment by bbell — January 7, 2009 @ 2:44 pm

  24. Sort of like making kids smoke a cigar so they’ll lose any desire to start smoking cigarettes?

    Comment by Mark B. — January 7, 2009 @ 3:08 pm

  25. I moved to Washington, DC a year and a half ago and was out of Postum so I went to the Safeway store and found a lonely jar there which I bought. That would have been about January of 2008. I later discovered that Postum had been pulled off the shelves in June of 2007, a year and a half earlier. I drink it every day and I have about two weeks worth left and am starting to worry. I don’t mind Pero but I can’t find it either. With sales of coffee wannabes so unbrisk, I’m sure Postum couldn’t pay for its spot on the shelves.

    Comment by Rudy — May 7, 2009 @ 6:35 am

  26. I have a half jar of Postum in my desk at work. It is only about three years old. I am open to bidding.

    Comment by Noray — May 26, 2009 @ 5:09 pm

  27. Hi Ardis
    from Norma in Tucson,

    Was cleon Skousen excommunited from the LDS chuch? I seem to remember reading that. But can’t remember where and details. Thanks

    Comment by Norma J Entrekin — July 7, 2009 @ 1:56 pm

  28. No, I’m sure that’s not right, Norma.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 7, 2009 @ 2:47 pm

  29. This stuff is seven months old, but be advised Cleon Skousen was my first cousin, twice removed. AND his son Paul writes fun books. I especially like his “The Mormon Bathroom Reader”.

    Comment by Curt A. — July 7, 2009 @ 3:59 pm

  30. Ardis: As someone I genuinely trust when it comes to history, are you aware of a really good biography on Skousen? Not a fluff piece, but also not a “Skousen’s the devil” shtick? I am particularly interested in his role as a popularizer of Mormonism. You see, my wife’s grandfather joined the church in the 1961 partly due to reading “The Naked Communist”. My wife and I have estimated that her grandfather, either through himself, his children, his grandchildren, or through the efforts of he converted to the Gospel, has brought over a thousand people into the church. While I know it’s rather hip(and easy) to lambast Skousen’s history and philosophy, I really would love to understand his popularity and how he was able to have such an impact bringing people who were not LDS into the church.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 11, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

  31. I guess what I’m wondering is if Skousen was just the right guy in the right place at the right time, or if there was more to it than that.

    Comment by Matt W. — December 11, 2010 @ 9:12 pm

  32. Thanks, Matt. I’m not aware of any real biography of Skousen — everything I’ve seen has been short pieces that are stumping for or against his political stands in a modern rather than contemporary-to-his-life context. Maybe it’s too soon to be able to evaluate him fairly? or maybe the current interest via Beck will prompt the kind of biography you want? I hope so.

    Such a biography would have to look at why he was so popular on so many fronts — his politics, his scriptural studies, his child-raising advice (So You Want to Raise a Boy), his popular tourist groups to the Middle East and to Central America. He obviously met a need for Mormons of the ’60s that wasn’t being filled by anyone else, no matter how inadequate his approach was according to current popular views. How did he zero in on what people were looking for? Why was he able to engage where other people didn’t, or weren’t trying? I think a real study of that would be even more interesting to me as a student of Mormon culture than as a biography. But I don’t know of anyone who has been or is engaged in that kind of study.

    I don’t think he was a bad man by any means, and it’s just a little too facile to sneer at his puffing up his own biography and his other shortcomings without analyzing what need he filled, and how and why. It’s nice to know that his work has produced some terrific results, as you have outlined in your own family. Thanks for that.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — December 11, 2010 @ 9:26 pm

  33. Hip and easy?

    Comment by Chris H. — December 11, 2010 @ 10:03 pm

  34. Thanks Ardis!

    Comment by Matt W. — December 13, 2010 @ 7:45 am