1943 appliance ad: we didn't make fridges this year, so that the steel could be used for the war effort

In this striking, odd 1943 ad, Norge Appliances explains that it didn't make any new models for 1943 so that the materials could go into the war effort: "When the guns are stilled, you can be sure that Norge thinking and Norge skill, stimulated by the stern school of war, will bring you even greater satisfaction, greater convenience than you have enjoyed before."

Norge Appliances 1943

(Image scanned by Phil-Are-Go)



  1. There were a lot of ads like this during WWII, when many consumer goods factories converted to war production. Basically they didn’t want to lose “mindspace” among their customers during the years when they didn’t have anything to sell to them.

  2. Bonus message: any man who’s at home instead of off fighting the war is a coward who hides behind his wife.

    1. Well, either he’s prematurely gray, or he’s in his mid 40s at least, so he’d be well past what the military wanted. His wife seems to be in her mid 20s though…

      1. He’s comforting the wife of one of his younger employees. Probably the one commanding the fridge.

      2. The Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 required registration of all men between twenty-one and forty-five, with conscription by birthday lotteries. In early 1941 the term of service was extended to two years. After Pearl Harbor the term of service was for the duration of the war plus six months and all men eighteen to sixty-four years old were registered.

        By April 1942 we were forcibly inducting forty-five year olds, accepting volunteers in their fifties, and keeping men in their sixties in uniform for the duration.

        WW2 was a real war. Not this chicken shit Washington fools about with today. The guy in the picture is a weakling or slacker of some sort, by 1943 standards, which is why he’s hiding behind his wife. If he wasn’t wearing a suit and using his wife as a shield, he’d be a worker in an essential industry which was much more socially acceptable.

        1. Or perhaps he had flat feet, or a bum ticker or any number of non-obvious health problems that would have kept him out of the service. But yes, we mobilized higher levels of both manpower and economic power in WWII than we had since the Civil war, or in any war since. Although when Korea rolled around, there were so few men left that hadn’t been drafted in the big one that the actually had to lower their physical standards to conduct a much smaller war.

    2. Oh he’s definitely been to war, seen horrible things, and has the emotional scars to show for it. He thought the hallucinations were over but now they are back.

    3. any man who’s at home instead of off fighting the war is a coward who hides behind his wife.

      Having the man closer to an appliance than the woman would be a perversion of the natural order of the 1940s universe. Like having a woman driving a car with a man as a passenger.

      Also, is there a little subtext in that fruit bowl?

      1. Of course — he’s not afraid; he’s conflicted. He can’t decide whether to be repelled because it’s a kitchen appliance or attracted to it because it’s a nice manly tank.

        I love the woman’s outfit. She shows her patriotism by wearing red and blue against a white background and her loyalty to her husband by wearing brown shoes that match his.

  3. Gunner: “Sorry, folks, we’re commandeering yer roast chicken ‘n’ deviled eggs ‘n’ celery ‘n’ raspberry pie for the war effort. Don’t make me shoot, ya mugs!”

  4. Or maybe he has been home from the front lines for a short while suffering “battle fatigue” and she is protective of him. Not at all like OBL shielding himself in initial reports. ;)

  5. The irony is that after the war, they didn’t have any time to put all that war-learned knowledge to use, so they dug the 1942 tooling out of mothballs and made more prewar fridges. It wasn’t until about 1948 that many postwar designs got manufactured.

  6. Ah, the quaint old days, when the generation that went to war made sacrifices to support it. Today we have discovered deficit financing, and can pass those sacrifices on to future generations.

    1. Ah, the quaint old days, when the generation that went to war made sacrifices to support it. Today we have discovered deficit financing, and can pass those sacrifices on to future generations.

      Seriously? The war was the time that government debt was at its peak in most Western nations. Ever heard of war bonds? That was the US governments way of ‘passing the sacrifice on to future generations’. As a percentage of GDP, the current US government debt is only approaching the war levels (thanks mostly to tax cuts rather than wasteful spending).

      1. True, I had forgotten about war bonds. But still, it seems like it was different — at least there were adds urging individual investment in war bonds. There does not appear to be anything like that today, and that the cost of war was more obvious back then. I imagine that was at least partly because that cost was higher, but I think that was not the only factor. That we cut taxes while waging two wars at once may demonstrate a different attitude in recent times.


    “Yeah, you’d LIKE to steal that Mississippi mud pie, but yer gonna have to go through ME first!”
    “No! I swear I was only going for the corned beef!”
    This helps the war effort?!?”

  8. I have a theory about boingboing posts. It seams that somewhere around posts 15-20, the conversation turns to ‘bigger picture’ observations about how the original subject (and / or the first few responses to it) are prime examples of why we as a species basically suck. Things really go off the rails from there. Amiright?

    1. It’s because of the human capacity to navel-gaze. Really, humans are just glorified pattern recognition machines. It’s kind of sad, actually.

    2. “It seams that somewhere around posts 15-20, the conversation turns to ‘bigger picture’ observations about how the original subject (and / or the first few responses to it) are prime examples of why we as a species basically suck.”

      Um, that’s why I like it here. Critical thinking and reconciliation of epistemologies.

      *flings scarf over shoulder and fixes beret*

  9. What Jonathan Badger said. I think it’s odd that you find this odd . . . you can’t open a periodical or newspaper from the war time without some advertisement explaining that production had been turned over to the war effort, and that you were doing your part by doing without. The ads that weren’t explaining why there wasn’t any steel or rubber or butter were asking you to bring your old steel or rubber or butter (well, okay, lard) down to the scrap drive, where it would be turned into bullets to shoot at Hitler or Tojo.

  10. No, you can’t have any more ice cream. Now get outside and start practicing those calisthenics.

    1. Heh, I was wondering the same. I guess it kind of makes sense for a series of fridges?

      1. Yeah but for a brand in an english speaking area of the world wouldn’t it be better to name it just “norway” in English? It doesn’t make any sense… Of course they have ads presenting husbands pushing their wifes as human shields infront of weapons turrets so anything goes I guess.

        1. It could be one of those condensed names that used to be very popular – taking one syllable each from a place or person or type of goods. (Maybe they did that and noticed the Norge/Norway thing, and decided to keep it? Maybe their prime audience was Norwegian immigrants in Minnesota?)

          And yeah, I’m really just guessing. :)

    1. Nah, Dyson tanks would get all clogged up, then you’d haveta clean out the innards with a shower-head and a toothbrush. And they’d be purple. Yeesh.

  11. That wouldn’t only make me lay off the Norge appliances, but I’d probably consider leaving the country. Lol at first glance the picture in the ad would make you think they’re going to war with civilians.

  12. Indeed there was a typewriter shortage during the war because the plants were converted to armaments. No new production, + a huge military demand = not nearly enough typewriters to go around.

  13. According to Wikipedia, Norge was a division of BorgWarner. I could not make that up. Part of Maytag now, alas.

  14. Actually, now that I look at it you can even see the “Borg-Warner” in the blue starburst logo in the lower right corner.

    1. So … are you saying the Norge, got assimilated by the Borg? Well they did escape the clutches of the Swedes (Borg is a Swedish name) back in the early 20th cen.

  15. Oh hey, this is my post on LJ! I love the art for this one, it was my computer’s desktop for months.

  16. something like this from the TSA would go a long way in helping us understand the pat downs and such..

  17. I wonder if Kristopher Schau would get excited about it if he found it in an old junkyard.

    1. Yep, I´m pretty sure this would be a perfect addition to the Hurra Torpedo arsenal.

  18. another thought here..what did people think about these ad’s..
    funny,dumb,gung ho for the way or lets get this POS over so we can have a frig again..how about Jr,did he look at the ad’s in Life and think about being a hero behind a weapon like that.70 some years after the fact it may be a funny post in boing-boing but this was war winning stuff at thetime.

  19. Admittedly, twin water cooled .50s seems like overkill when dealing with mice in the kitchen, but effective if yo don’t care too much about the woodwork. Or the neighbors.

  20. He’s all like ‘I wish I had the ‘nads’ for this but I freakin’ don’t! And his stepford wife is all ‘I would gasp for breath if I could, but my 8 inch riDICulous waistline won’t allow for any oxygen intake whatsoEVER!

  21. Anyone notice how form-fitting and suggestive the outfits women wore in 1940s and 1950s advertising were?

    I agree with the others. The husband looks a bit older than the average GI in 1943 (and I give him props for landing a mid-20s wife). My grandfather (who turns 100 next weekend) was 32 years old when this ad was published. He was past the original draft age and was never called up. This Selective Service Act of 1940 required that men between the ages 21 and 30 register with local draft boards. The age range was later changed to 18-45.

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