How Burma Shave sent Frenchie to Mars


29 Responses to “How Burma Shave sent Frenchie to Mars”

  1. Patrick Dodds says:

    Lovely story – ta for that.

  2. GuyInMilwaukee says:

    There’s also a Red Owl still operating in Green Bay.
    Time for a road trip.

  3. spicker says:

    Um… Moers is not a small village. Its population is slightly more than 100k actually. I should know, its about 10km from where I live. Even in 1958 it had around 50k

    • grimc says:

      Maybe there’s moer than one village with that name.

    • Annika says:

      Also, the pronunciation isn’t really similar to “Mars”. It’s hard to explain to people who don’t speak German, but the “oe” in “Moers” is pronounced like the Umlaut “ö” which is a bit similar to how the English word “nerd” is pronounced ;-) not quite the same but best I can do.

      • Anonymous says:

        “which they insisted was pronounced, “Mars””

        I got the impression this was known; otherwise it would simply read “which is pronounced, ‘Mars’”

        However thanks for the explanation of how to pronounce an Umlaut, I’ve always wondered!

  4. Phikus says:

    So sometimes Moers is less.

  5. Brainspore says:

    This is a great precedent for men’s toiletry product advertising, because it suggests the possibility that Old Spice will begin honoring the many promises made by their latest spokesmanlyman.

  6. ttrentham says:

    900 jars at $0.15 each, that’s $135. Assuming that he had to pay for most of them, that’s still a good deal for a trip for two from Wisconsin to Germany in 1958. My first google result for airfare in 1958 yielded $453 to fly from NY to London.

  7. Forbes says:

    A longer account of the “Send Frenchie to Mars” story, including the telegrams exchanged between French and the Burma-Shave company, can be found at Burma-Shave initially tried to discourage Frenchie by pointing out that they’d only promised a trip *to* Mars, and wired him this reply:

    If A Trip
    To Mars You Earn
    Remember, Friend
    There’s No Return

  8. Cochituate says:

    Red Owl was a Minnesota based chain when I moved to St. Paul in 1979. We had a Red Owl a few blocks from our house when Marge and I moved in, in 1990, and the sign came down within the year. It’s now the flagship Kowalskis Market. There used to be another Red Owl on West 7th Street that was turned into one of the world’s weirdest Post Office around the same time.

    A Red Owl store sign showed up in the Coen Brothers movie A SERIOUS MAN I am told, but that’s one movie I haven’t seen yet.

    Here’s a nice jpeg of their logo character:

  9. Rich Keller says:

    Odd Wisconsin? My sentiments, exactly. Since I’ve moved back to Wisconsin, I’ve been using the portmanteaux of Oddsconsin and Weirdsconsin once in a while. There’s enough kookiness here for our own Travel Channel series.

    I remember the Red Owl at 84th and Greenfield in West Allis.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if this helped inspire Heinlein’s “Have Space-Suit, Will Travel opening.

  11. Donald Petersen says:

    Though Frenchie’s a
    Hero of mine,
    His head resembles

  12. Znaps says:

    Looks more like Herman Munster to me… Who was also attributed to Frankenstein.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Where’s Rene? Where’s Frenchie?

    (I can’t believe Boing Boing didn’t catch this connection!)

  14. Phikus says:

    This is the best transportation I ever got out of Burma Shave

  15. Lars Haeh says:

    I’m not exactly Mr. Safety, but this is ridiculous. IIRC, rocket with a C sized motor will get up to 30mph before leaving the end of the launch pad guide rod, and 200mph in about 2 seconds after that. Getting hit with a sparkly rocket is not exactly anyone’s idea of a good time. They are pretty safe if you use proper, well aligned stabilization fins. Much better to just buy a kit, the kits are cheap and safe if you follow the instructions.

  16. Anonymous says:

    I got referred to this site, and this article makes no sense to me. I think I’m in the wrong demographic?

    • EeyoreX says:

      I got referred to this site, and this article makes no sense to me. I think I’m in the wrong demographic?

      This comment totally wins all the series of tubes, forever.

      It’s like the most verbose “Meh” ever!

  17. Steaming Pile says:

    The Burma-Shave people were probably pleased as punch about that. They moved a lot of product, and they got a lot of (almost) free publicity. All it cost them was a trip to Germany. Brilliant!

  18. Anonymous says:

    Red Owl groceries! That brings back memories of growing up in WI :)

    • cinemajay says:

      YES! There was one in western WI, Hudson I believe, that used to call them selves the “Price Rebels” and they had minutemen painted the big glass windows.

      Ah, those were the days…

  19. dole says:

    This story
    made the day merrier
    but I’m still waiting
    on that harrier

  20. GuyInMilwaukee says:

    Wow.. you just sent me back. I remember the Red Owl stores as a kid. Good times, man….

  21. GuyInMilwaukee says:

    Holy crap. One still exists!

  22. snowraver1 says:

    This reminds me of the Pepsi//Harrier Aircraft thing from the late 90′s.

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