This well-researched and documented history of goods-and-customer interaction since the days of bartering is also a delightful overview of American shopping customs from 19th-century Main Street to today's malls. Early in the 20th century, Strasser shows, advertising of national brandsquotes unnec.?/unnec.gs launched products creating their own demand--safety razors, cameras, fountain pens (with attendant consumption of blades, film, etc.)--thus gradually displacing networks of generic manufacturers whose sales ``drummers'' fanned across America by rail and buggy. The development of department stores such as Macy's, mail-order giants like Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Ward, grocery chains foreshadowing supermarkets, ``aids'' like premiums, displays and trading stamps and the skyrocket successes of Coca-Cola and Wrigley's gum are only a fraction of the sweeping story, as the author of Never Done brings into focus major social and economic forces linked to our daily lives. (Nov.)
Strasser, who also has written a history of housework ( Never Done , LJ 5/1/81), explains how advertising techniques developed in the early years of this century, especially the brand-name concept, have shaped the modern American appetite for particular mass-produced goods. Beginning with Crisco in 1912, she describes various campaigns to sell new products, emphasizing how the goal from the outset has been ``to make people want things,'' which puts profits ahead of consumer needs. The legacy has been pernicious: ``a consumer culture that itself breeds constant discontent, depending always on individuals wanting more.'' Free enterprise advocates will take exception, but this thoughtful look at how Americans consume is worth anyone's time.-- Kenneth F. Kister, Poynter Inst. for Media Studies, St. Petersburg, Fla.
A history of the marketing campaigns of such brands as Coca-Cola, Kellogg's, Wrigley's, and Kodak and an analysis of the creation of a market for mass-produced, trademarked goods. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)