Vintage dog food: 40 old ads let you see what’s changed (and hasn’t) over the years

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Vintage dog food with cute dog
Some of the earliest manufactured dog food in history was called “Spratts Patent Meat, Fibrine & Vegetable Dog Cakes (with Beetroot).” Ingredients in the British formulation back in 1882 included “American beef, Scotch oatmeal,” wheat, flour, dates and, yes, beets among the ingredients.

It became hugely popular in the United Kingdom — in fact, as of 1883, the company was already making 10,400 tons of biscuits (“dog cakes”) each year.

The next obvious step was to bring the formula stateside and market it to American pups, and we found records of ready-made dog food being sold in the United States as early as 1887.

It looks like the Spratts brand didn’t get any real competition until around 1905, when companies like Austin’s and Old Grist Mill hit the market with their “Dog Bread.” (That is definitely one product description that hasn’t stood the test of time.)

Very old dog food brands - History


Red Heart vintage dog food (1940s)

Red Heart vintage dog food from the 1940s


Pard vintage dog food (1945)

Vintage 1945 Pard dog food


Red Heart dog food (1941)

1941 Red Heart dog food


1941 Rita Hayworth Cocker Spaniel

1941 Rita Hayworth Cocker Spaniel - Dog food


Do you know why your dog bolts his food? (1943)

It’s his dog nature. He relishes the food in his stomach, not in his mouth. The makers of Ideal dog food take this into consideration.

1943 Ideal dog food


Gaines: Every inch a purebred (1944)

Vintage dog food ad from 1944 - Gaines


What have wartime foods done to your dog? (1945)

Appetite poor? Nervous? No pep? Coat dull? Your dog will do better on Pard dog food. (From after WWII ended.)

1945 Pard dog food


It’s the new Gaines with Viactron that helps your dog get more good out of every ounce of food! (1948)

1948 Gaines dog food


Vintage Pard dog food ad from 1949

Vintage Pard dog food ad from 1949


1950 Gro-Pup dog food

1950 Gro-Pup dog food


Gaines dog food: A great scientific improvement in dog feeding (1952)

GAINES MEAL NOW HOMOGENIZED

NEVER BEFORE a dog food with guaranteed uniform nourishment! More meat, milk, and fish proteins. Here is a food to provide GREATER NOURISHMENT to fortify your dog with bounding energy from head to tail!

A food so much MORE APPETIZING that your dog will go for his dinner with an eagerness you’ll love to see. A meal that is EASIER TO FEED than any you have ever fed before! This food has been developed after years of research, and it has been thoroughly tested and proved at the famous Gaines Research Kennels. All Gaines’ resources, experience and technical skill have been combined to give you the very finest dog food that modern science can produce.

The new HOMOGENIZED Gaines Meal is unlike any dog food you have ever known. A unique Gaines process combines all ingredients into crunchy little nuggets. Uniform nourishment in cash and every nugget is guaranteed. There is no separation of ingredients. In every single nugget are all the food essentials known to be needed to nourish every inch of your dog.

Not only does this great new meal provide more meat, milk, and fish proteins, but also a wealth of food energy, vitamins and minerals for sturdier bodies, stronger bones and red-blooded vitality. More Nourishing! More Appetizing! Easier to Feed! More Thrifty!

Never before has there been a dog food that provides such a wealth of nourishment in this easily digested HOMOGENIZED form. Never a meal more appealing to dogs. Nev. a meal so easy to feed. Never a dog food that costs less to feed.

1952 Gaines dog food


A baby with a dog who loves Friskies (1956)

1956 baby dog

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1957 Purina Dog Chow

1957 Purina Dog Chow - food


1957 Gaines Dog meal food

Old-fashioned 1957 Gaines Dog meal food


Purina Dog Chow – food from 1960s

Purina Dog Chow - food from 1960s


Vintage Purina dog food ad – 1950s/1960s

America’s largest seller… more nutritious than meat alone

Yes, it’s true. Purina Dog Chow has just the right amounts of calcium, copper, vitamins and other elements that meat alone lacks. In fact, Purina’s complete nutrition is unsurpassed by any leading dog food of any kind. And because dogs like the taste of meat, Purina packs a hearty, meaty flavor dogs love . . . makes dogs Eager Eaters.

Now give your dog the food enjoyed by more than three million dogs every day—Purina Dog Chow. so complete… All you add is love.

Vintage Purina dog food ad - 1950s 1960s

 


Vintage Ken-L Ration dog food (1960s)

Feed the real thing… with lean red meat

Vintage Ken-L Ration dog food


Ken-L Ration at the dog show (TV commercial from the 1960s)


Gravy Train dog food makes its own gravy (1960)

Vintage 1960 Gravy Train dog food


1960 Hunt Club Burgerbits Dog Food

1960 Hunt Club Burgerbits Dog Food


1960 ad for Friskies canned Dog food

1960 ad for Friskies canned Dog food


Friskies dog food ad from 1960 – Dog in costume

Friskies dog food ad from 1960 - Dog in costume


1960s Purina Puppy Chow – dog food

1960s Purina Puppy Chow - dog food


New concentrated Ken-L Meal dog food TV commercial (1960)


1961 Friskies dog food from Carnation

1961 Friskies dog food from Carnation


1961 Friskies dog food

1961 Friskies dog food


1961 Gravy Train dog food

1961 Gravy Train dog food


1962 Gro-Pup Bar-B-Chew dog food

1962 Gro-Pup Bar-B-Chew dog food


Speak dog food: In a tray, not a can (1963)

One squeeze shows you it’s soft and moist without adding water! Tender, beef flavor!

Dogs and people agree — for real beef flavor with clean, easy serving, try delicious new Speak! Every tender chunk comes soft, moist and delicious right from the package.

And it comes in a tray instead of a can! So there’s no mixing, no mess, no refrigeration, no objectionable odor. Real convenience. Try Speak and you’ll never bother with canned or dry dog food again!

Speak dog food In a tray, not a can (1963)


Andy Griffith for Gaines Burgers (mid-60s)

Shot on the set of The Andy Griffith Show, in character – and Ron Howard is there, too!

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Vintage Alpo meaty dog food in cans (1970)

We heated two dog foods to find out who’s got the meat and who’s got the mush

We heated a can of ALPO for five minutes, stirred it, and ended up with chunks of beef and meat by-products. Then we took a can of one of our leading competitors. They claim to be chunks of meat and meat by-products.

We heated their can for five minutes, stirred it, and all the chunks turned into mush. Real chunks of meat don’t turn to mush when you heat them.

ALPO Beef is always chunks of beef and meat by-products, heated or not. But many dog foods that claim to be “meaty” fall apart when heated. If you ever take the time to heat a can of dog food, you’ll find out who has the meat chunks and who has the mush.

You get meat with ALPO. Just meat and meat by-products with all the vitamins and minerals your dog needs for a complete and balanced diet. Switch your dog to ALPO. Then he’ll get the meat you pay for.

1970 Vintage Alpo dog food in cans


Chuck Wagon dog food (1970s)

Instant Dinner for dogs:  Tender, juicy chunks and rich meat broth already mixed with golden nuggets… just the right helpings of what dogs like best and need most…all in one box. Add warm water for a complete dinner instantly. CHUCK WAGON — next to you, what he likes best and needs most.

1970s Chuck Wagon dog food


Chuck Wagon TV commercial with the little stagecoach


Purina Puppy Chow (1976)

Purina Puppy Chow 1976


Variety Choice Chuck Wagon dog food (1977)

1977 Chuck Wagon dog food


Cycle dog food from General Foods (1977)

Chances are 1 in 3 your dog is hiding a weight problem.

Old Cycle dog food from 1977 - General Foods


Vintage Chuck Wagon dog food from 1974 – Chunky Chicken flavor

Vintage Chuck Wagon dog food from 1974 - Chunky Chicken flavor


Puppy Chuck Wagon vintage TV commercial (1976)


Vintage Cycle dog food from General Foods (1977)

Start planning for your puppy’s future now

Your puppy’s not a puppy very long. Before you know it, he’s full-grown. So you have to crowd a lot of care and training into one short year —and a lot of nutrition into one small body. That’s why your puppy needs Cycle 1 dog food. And the earlier the better.

Cycle 1 is specially formulated for growing puppies. Pound for pound, your puppy burns up twice the calories he will as an adult. He needs about twice the vitamins and minerals. Extra protein for cell growth. Extra calcium for strong teeth and bones.

It’s all there in Cycle 1 — concentrated so his developing digestive system can handle it easily. And unlike dry puppy foods, Cycle 1 is a tasty dinner of meaty chunks—in beef or chicken flavors your puppy will love. Cycle 1 Isn’t simply a puppy-sized version of an adult dog food. It’s just as specially balanced for growing puppies as Cycle 2 is for young adults. As Cycle 3 is for overweight dogs. As Cycle 4 is for older dogs.

Remember: there’s a Cycle food formulated for each important stage in your dog’s life. So why not begin at the beginning? You can’t get him off to a better nutritional start than you can with Cycle 1. Cycle. Nutrition…for the life of your dog. 

Vintage Cycle dog food from 1977 - General Foods

Cycle dog food - 1980


Mighty Dog dogfood (1970s)

Mighty Dog dogfood - 1970s


Vintage Gaines Burgers dog food ad – late 1970s early 1980s

Vintage Gaines Burgers dog food ad - late 1970s early 1980s


Vintage Purina Hero dog food (1980)

Purina Hero dog food 1980


Alpo dog food with meat protein (1982)

Alpo dog food from 1982


Gravy Train makes its own gravy (1986)

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