What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?
“Carry on the business with the same head workman as manufactured for Jackson and Gibbons.”
At the beginning of 1770, William Norton and Company placed an advertisement for “MUSTARD and CHOCOLATE” in the Pennsylvania Journal and then continued to insert it on occasion over the next several months. They advised prospective customers that they “fitted up a shop” on Front Street. Buyers could visit them there or, if they lived “at a distance,” send orders to the company. Norton and Company made both wholesale and retail sales of their mustard and chocolate. To encourage others to purchase in bulk for resale, they offered a discount. They also pledged good customer service.
Yet these were not the only appeals deployed by Norton and Company. Their business may have been new, but the enterprise was not. They built on a foundation that had already been established by Jackson and Gibbons, familiar names in Pennsylvania when it came to the production of mustard and chocolate. Jackson and Gibbons previously ran their own advertisements, complete with a woodcut depicting their seal flanked by a bottle of mustard and a brick of chocolate, in the Pennsylvania Gazette. Norton and Company opened their own notice by proclaiming that they had “purchased the mills, late Benjamin Jackson’s, and carry on the business with the same head workman as manufactured for Jackson and Gibbons.” They assumed that for many consumers it mattered less whose names appeared at the top of the advertisement and oversaw the business and more who actually produced the mustard and chocolate for Norton and Company.
They sought to benefit from the reputation Jackson and Gibbons already earned. In prior advertisements, their predecessors proclaimed, “The said JACKSON is the Original, and indeed only, proper Manufacturer on this Continent … and has brought his Machines to greater Perfection than any other even in England.” Having acquired Jackson and Gibbons’s mill and head workman, Norton and Company were prepared to provide the same quality products to consumers without interruption.