Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » We Built This City on Rock and — er, that is, on Sugar

We Built This City on Rock and — er, that is, on Sugar

By: Ardis E. Parshall - October 10, 2011

From 1946 —





  1. I love these sugar ads. It kind of makes me wonder what people will say about today’s advertisements in 50 years.

    Comment by Keri Brooks — October 10, 2011 @ 11:55 am

  2. You mean, something about that quaint old-fashioned technology in the iPhone and iPad? :)

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 10, 2011 @ 12:00 pm

  3. That was too flippant for what I meant to say. I like these ads, too, beyond the fact that they’ve become a kind of running gag here. I posted the first ones for laughs because of the seemingly exaggerated claims they made. Those claims are consistent through the years, though, so must express something the writers truly believed, beyond the simple “buy sugar” message. For a people who built cities and schools and an economy from the ground up, from mud bricks and fighting crickets for the crops, a successful crop and industry like beet sugar really must have meant something that most of us probably can’t quite grasp. I sense that in these ads, even if I can’t put myself in their shoes.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — October 10, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

  4. As a small boy when I saw U&I ads in the “Improvement Era” I remember thinking U&I must be the Lord’s sugar, as opposed to our own West Coast C&H. :-)

    Comment by SLK in SF — October 10, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  5. I love these!

    I bet Keri is wondering what quaint false ideas we have now that will be looked at in the future.

    Comment by Jacob M — October 10, 2011 @ 1:18 pm

  6. I’m no historian, but I suspect that many ads of this time told a heroic story, not just the ones that showed up in LDS publications.

    Comment by Paul — October 10, 2011 @ 3:49 pm

  7. I must admit – I have a new perspective on sugar and these ads since I moved to Rupert Idaho last year. We have a large sugar factory here, one of our major employers, that was once part of the Church/U and I group.

    Ardis I would have to say that the folks here would really agree with your comments in response #3. Around here a hit to the sugar industry (or the potato industry) would be akin to what happened to Detroit, etc. with the hits on the Auto industry.

    Comment by andrew h — October 10, 2011 @ 6:48 pm

  8. I wonder what sugar ads for other producers of the time looked like. On the east outskirts of our town is an old abandoned sugar factory; sugar beets are what drove the economy of this community until the FAA and IBM came in the mid-1960s. The local beet production was part of the Great Western sugar company, I think. Now the only remaining operational Great Western sugar refinery still in the area is up in Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

    I would imagine the advertising for Great Western was similar, because these U&I ads reflected the values of the day, not just “Mormon” values.

    Comment by Coffinberry — October 11, 2011 @ 8:55 am

  9. When you clearly remember thinning, hoeing and topping beets, you will see these ads as a normal part of life. Sugar beets were probably the most important cash crop of my early life in southern Idaho. We had a three-week “beet vacation” from school in October every year to harvest the beets. It was simply part of our culture.

    Comment by CurtA — October 11, 2011 @ 9:57 am

  10. The print adds were only surpassed by the TV and radio jingles. The sacharine C&H:

    C&H, C&H
    Everybody’s singin’ ’bout C&H
    It’s the only pure cane sugar from Hawaii!
    [Hawaiian guy] That’s our sugar!
    C&H. The pure cane sugar from HAWAII!

    and the syrupy U&I jingle:
    U&I Sugar, U&I Sugar
    Sweetens the day.
    U&I Sugar, U&I Sugar
    Seetens . . . [then I kinda forget]

    but my mom told me it was our friends from our old Ward in Bothell, WA, the Moore family, who recorded the U&I jingle. They were a singing family with one Miss Washington competing for Miss America in about 1974. It could have been recorded through KIRO in Seattle which was a Bonneville station – part of that corporate thing going with U&I and all. I dunno. It’s what my mom told me.

    We were extremely conflicted as my relatives in Eastern Oregon/Southwestern Idaho raised sugar beets for the Amalgamated Sugar Co. – not affiliated with the church (at least not California either). My mom usually bought what was cheapest.

    Comment by Grant — October 11, 2011 @ 10:03 am

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