Dollar Stores Existed In 1870, And They Were Pretty Classy

Dollar Stores Existed In 1870, And They Were Pretty Classy

The late 19th century gave us the five-and-dime store, where everything cost five or ten cents. Those are the ancestors of what we think of as a “dollar store” today. What you might not know is that dollar stores have been around for more than 140 years. It’s just that back then, a dollar could buy you a lot more, so they were rather swanky. [More]

How Snake Oil Dodged Basic Laws In 1907

How Snake Oil Dodged Basic Laws In 1907

It’s funny how similar the labeling tactics used by hucksters of fake snake oil used after getting busted by new laws in 1907 are to some techniques used by food and product packagers today. [More]

Obama To Bankers: Remember When Creating The FDIC Was Going To Ruin The Economy?

Obama To Bankers: Remember When Creating The FDIC Was Going To Ruin The Economy?

During the President’s address to Wall Street bankers today in New York City, he reminded them that their predecessors had completely flipped out about a bill that passed through Congress way back in 1933. It was, in their view, sure to “not only rob them of their pride of profession but would reduce all U.S. banking to its lowest level.” What was this reform bill? [More]

Hot Dog Found At Coney Island May Be 140 Years Old, But Definitely A Hoax

Hot Dog Found At Coney Island May Be 140 Years Old, But Definitely A Hoax

Update: As several readers have pointed out, it’s a Coney Island publicity hoax, which probably explains why CNN yanked the clip.   *   People are calling it the caveman hot dog. Okay, nobody is calling it that. But one person interviewed by CNN News12 Brooklyn said, “That’s unbelievable, finding hot dogs that are 140 years old. That’s crazy, to me it’s crazy.” Another person said, “These things are irreplaceable, they’re priceless. And it’s great that they found it, and that it will be here for generations to come and see and learn.” [More]

Think Times Are Tough? Try The Recession Of 410-1100

Think Times Are Tough? Try The Recession Of 410-1100

Cheer up! Sure, you may be unemployed. The bank may be close to foreclosing on your home. And other creditors are circling like vultures to make sure they get a piece of your hide before you declare bankruptcy or go underground. But at least you don’t have to deal with a complete collapse of all commerce, no infrastructure to speak of and the total loss of all skilled labor. Of course, as long as you weren’t covered in sh*t, you were probably doing OK. [More]

Walmart Vs. Historians In Battle Over Civil War Site

Walmart Vs. Historians In Battle Over Civil War Site

Historians and conservationists have united in Virginia against a common foe: Walmart, which wants to build a 38,000-square-foot Supercenter near near Wilderness Battlefield, a Civil War site and National Park. The groups filed a suit on Wednesday charging local officials with brushing aside concerns about the site when they approved Walmart’s plans in August.

Does Living In California Make You A Higher Credit Risk?

Does Living In California Make You A Higher Credit Risk?

Paul Smith, who lives in San Diego and has a credit score of 751, had his HSBC credit card limit lowered from $7,000 to $1,400 recently for mysterious reasons. He called HSBC to find out why.

Seven Free Sites To Track Your Personal Information

Seven Free Sites To Track Your Personal Information

The Consumer Reports Money Adviser has compiled a great list of sites that store your personal information and will provide free copies of their reports to you if you ask.

A Brief History of Ads Targeting African Americans

A Brief History of Ads Targeting African Americans

Slate has posted a slideshow documenting ads since the 1970s, when corporations starting heavily targeting African-American consumers. Check it out.

Top 10 Ironic Ads From History

Top 10 Ironic Ads From History

Remember when you could buy barbiturates for the baby? Cover your house with asbestos? Or get heroin from the doctor? Okay, probably not, but thanks to the immortal beauty of advertising, you can take a trip back in time. Here’s our pick of some of the most ironic ads in American history.

Old New Yorker Ad: Our Readers Are So Rich, They STILL Have Slaves

Old New Yorker Ad: Our Readers Are So Rich, They STILL Have Slaves

While perusing old advertising trade journals, I came across this ad for the New Yorker. You win if you can correctly answer what the message is here: New Yorker readers are under-exercised fat cats? That blackface was more common in hotels than we ever thought? That retail stores once secretly conspired with the New Yorker’s ad department to divulge customers’ sales histories?

A Visual History Of Credit Cards From 1951-Today

A Visual History Of Credit Cards From 1951-Today

Credit cards weren’t always the adorable little pocket debt machines that they are today. They weren’t even plastic until AmEx decided to class things up in 1959. Travel back to the good old days when credit cards were a “ticket for anyone to spend freely and decide when was best to pay it back” with this revealing photo set from Slate.

Robert Duvall Is Not Cool With Building A Walmart Near A Civil War Battlefield

Robert Duvall Is Not Cool With Building A Walmart Near A Civil War Battlefield

Robert Duvall, a descendant of Robert E. Lee, is really just not cool with Walmart’s plans to build a Supercenter near the site of an important Civil War battle.

General Motors' Greatest Innovation? Not Cars, Credit

General Motors' Greatest Innovation? Not Cars, Credit

Sorry to disappoint all of you who think that the two-person Segway is the most innovative thing GM has produced in its long history — it seems that the company’s most important new idea was consumer credit. More specifically, convincing a nation of thrifty debt-averse tightwads that taking on debt was socially acceptable. Yes, it’s true. We weren’t always a bunch of debt junkies.

Animation: Target's Spread Across The U.S.

Animation: Target's Spread Across The U.S.

Last summer, we highlighted an ominous-looking animation that traced the spread of Walmart stores across the American landscape over the past 5 decades. Now the same guy behind that map has put together a new one, this time tracing Target’s growth.

Old Cigarette Ads: Doctors, Nurses, And Rock Hudson Say It's Good For You

Old Cigarette Ads: Doctors, Nurses, And Rock Hudson Say It's Good For You

Man, cigarettes were awesome in the past, if these old ads collected by Stanford University are to be believed. They calmed your nerves so you’d stop humming nervously! They soothed your throat! They made you a movie star and helped you capture animals on your big game hunt! We don’t know what tobacco was made of before the mid-80s, but no wonder everyone smoked.

These Old Ads Remind You To Drug Children And The Elderly

These Old Ads Remind You To Drug Children And The Elderly

Sometimes gentleness is required of your toddler. Sometimes ill-tempered old folks get too agitated and threaten you with canes. That’s why sometimes the best solution is a good old fashioned thorazine pill, or a barbiturate elixir. Weirdomatic has a collection of bizarre ads like these from the past. Our favorite, aside from the drug ads, is the one showing Olympian speed skater Jack Shea taking a break from his skating to enjoy the rejuvenating effects of a Camel cigarette. So that’s how Phelps did it.

What Does A Bank Run Look Like In 2008? A Lot Like 1912.

What Does A Bank Run Look Like In 2008? A Lot Like 1912.

The FDIC was created in 1933 by the Glass-Steagall Act, and provides $100,000 of deposit insurance to checking and savings deposits. “Bank panics” used to be fairly common, and the FDIC was intended to instill confidence in the banking system after the Great Depression. The most recent big failure, that of California bank IndyMac, will cost the FDIC between $4 and $8 billion, and they estimate that about $1 billion of IndyMac’s deposits are “potentially uninsured,” meaning that the depositors had more than $100,000 on deposit. So what does a bank run look like these days?