Heirloom: 1950s Forward Cream of Wheat ad has my family in it
In 1949, my parents – both Holocaust survivors from Poland – and I, a baby at the time, left Germany and immigrated to the United States, where they began their journey toward American citizenship. My father, Yisroel Posluzny, who came from the town of Skalbmierz (pronounced Skolmizh in Yiddish), became Jerry Pahl, and my mother, Gittel, from Nasielsk (Yiddish: Nasheltsk), was now Grace Pahl.
From as far back as I can remember, the familiar Cream of Wheat box with the picture of a chef holding a comforting bowl of the popular farina was in the kitchen cabinet, on the counter or on the table and my mother was at the stove, stirring the pan. Mmm. . . geshmak, delicious!
My father started his day eating it every morning before going to work and Mom ate it for lunch. Mom told me many times that I ate Cream of Wheat every day and loved it, from the time I was a baby.
Many years later, while looking through a folder of my mother’s papers, we found a yellowed page of the Forward whose edges were crumbling. It was a Cream of Wheat ad and, to my astonishment, the family that was quoted and photographed in the ad was our own! We couldn’t tell what the date of that issue was because the page had been torn out without the date. Since my sister Helene looks to be about two years old in the photo, I’m guessing it was published in 1954-55.
My mother told me that it was well-known in my parents’ circle of greeneh (Jewish immigrant) friends that Cream of Wheat was indeed a staple in our household and that a friend who knew someone who knew someone who worked for the company, was looking for a family like ours and made the introductions. And then the ad appeared in the Yiddish paper and all their friends saw it. After all, was there a greeneh household that didn’t have the Forverts at home in those days? Everyone read it, cover to cover. Surely, the Cream of Wheat company wanted to let us all know that the same farina we ate in Germany was available in the United States as well. So now we had become the poster family for their product.
But believe me, the ad’s glowing review wasn’t just hype; the sentiments were genuine!