What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“He will always have all sorts of Pies and Tarts of different prices.”
Daniel Duchemin, “MEAT Cook and pastry Cook from Paris,” placed an advertisement in the New-York Gazette to inform its readers of the services he provided. Although he repeatedly addressed the “Ladies and Gentlemen of this City,” Duchemin did not seek the patronage of only elite customers. After listing a variety of pastries, including “Royal Cakes, Queen Cakes, Dutchess, [and] Savoy Campaigne,” he proclaimed that he would “always have all sorts of Pies and Tarts of different prices” available at his shop. Some of his more elaborate pastries may have been best suited for the tastes and budgets of “Ladies and Gentlemen,” but Duchemin did not depend on their business alone. Instead, he offered treats at various price points to encourage as many potential customers as possible to visit his shop. To that end, his language shifted in the final lines of his advertisement. Rather than continuing to address the “Ladies and Gentlemen of this City,” he indicated his “readiness to serve the Publick,” a much broader constituency.
Duchemin resorted to a marketing strategy frequently adopted by other entrepreneurs who advertised goods and services in eighteenth-century America: the suggestion of exclusivity. Without actually restricting his clientele, he implied that he primarily served the better sort. That could have given his business a certain cachet among elites who may have regularly made purchases at his shop. They could have done so secure in the assumption that Duchemin’s pastries were intended for them. Yet other customers with aspirations could also enjoy “all sorts of pastrey hot and cold” Duchemin made and sold. Occasional purchases gave them a taste of the culinary treats enjoyed by the better sort.
Advertisements for various goods and services suggest that formerly clear lines that distinguished colonists by status became blurred as the eighteenth century progressed. All sorts of customers increasingly had access to textiles, housewares, and other consumer goods previously acquired solely by the elite. Schoolmasters, foreign language tutors, and dancing and fencing masters suggested that they served elite clients but instructed all pupils who could pay. Duchemin utilized a similar strategy, positioning his pastry shop as a high-end destination for the most genteel customers but welcoming “the Publick” with “different prices” to get them through the door.