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Home Industry 20th Century Style

Miriam B. Murphy
History Blazer May 1996

Home industry—in Utah the two words almost immediately bring to mind the pioneer era and the exhortations of Brigham Young to produce locally as many of life’s necessities as possible. No doubt the Mormon leader would have applauded the tub-thumping of the Utah Manufacturers Association (UMA) 70 years later. During 1917 the Utah Payroll Builder, official publication of the UMA, celebrated the wide variety of Utah products. Slogans at the top of many pages urged readers to support local businesses: See That a Utah Concern’s Name Is on the Label, Let’s All Join in Buying Utah Made Goods, Try the Utah Made Goods Next Time, Utah’s Industries Grow Through Your Patronage, Utah Made Goods Are Superior, and Farewell to Every Dollar Sent Away from Home.

In a follow-up report on the success of the statewide observance of Utah Products Week, November 11–17, 1917, the magazine boasted: “Is there a man or woman, boy or girl in the State of Utah who did not have brought to his or her attention the necessity of patronizing home industries? Is there a home in Utah that did not respond to the patriotic call to ‘Buy Utah Made Goods’?” Part of the program’s success can be attributed to an underlying theme of patriotism in time of war. Buying locally would stimulate Utah’s factories to operate at a high level of efficiency. Greater factory output would bring local prosperity and would also feed and supply the troops fighting in Europe. Consuming local products was also supposed to decrease congestion on the nation’s railroads, which were freighting war-related goods.

The Utah Products Week campaign targeted every possible audience by involving the schools, churches, newspapers, and magazines. Even the relatively new medium of motion pictures was enlisted in the effort: “The motion picture houses, too, would not allow their audiences to retire before flashing before their eyes the significant slogan, ‘Try Utah Made Goods, They’re Better.'” Teachers were praised for their creative approach to interesting their students in “the sound gospel of buying local products.” At the Ensign School in Salt Lake City, for instance, children in the upper grades had “assembled 150 labels, cartons, cans, glass jars, sacks, and other receptacles, each containing a distinct Utah Product, the output of seventy different Utah factories.” The products were attractively displayed for all to see. In addition, the pupils participated in an industrial parade, dressed in outfits covered with labels from Utah foods and clothing that “supply the daily wants of the average household.” A banquet at the Hotel Utah on November 16 capped the week’s activities. Senator Reed Smoot addressed “the brilliant audience” and cited the need for American industries to boost their production to meet vital wartime needs.

Ogden had jumped onto the “buy Utah products” bandwagon on October 9 when boosters and publicists there hosted a luncheon at the Hermitage for members of the Municipal League of Utah. The menu, printed by Scoville Press in Ogden, featured Utah products exclusively. Where possible the foods were grown or processed in Ogden. The bill of fare included Mountain Brand ham, roast Ogden beef, crisp Ogden garden lettuce, celery, and fresh tomatoes, Hooper cheese, Goddard’s pickles and catsup, Kern’s special bread, Hess’s nut loaves and layer cakes, Delicia ice cream, Elberta peaches, Weber County grapes, Maid o’Clover butter, Paul Revere chocolates, Murphy’s Hotel Utah coffee, Becco-Becker Brewery’s prohibition-era nonalcoholic drink, and Columbia Club cigars and Corina cigars and cigarettes.

The Utah Payroll Builder itself appeared in a new and more attractive format during 1917, its fifth year of publication. The special, enlarged November issue, which ran to 108 pages, was sent throughout the state to libraries and to teachers and other people of influence in communities. The magazine contained capsule histories of more than forty Utah industries from candy and condensed milk to macaroni and overalls. It certainly appeared possible to satisfy most of one’s daily needs with Utah products. Brigham Young would have been proud.

Source: Utah Payroll Builder 5 (1917).