Ladies, beware. G. Heileman Brewing Company of La Crosse wants you to know that “more homes are wrecked by the daily menu…than by the ‘Other Woman.’” The solution? To keep men happy and faithful, you will need to make better sandwiches and serve more beer, and luckily Heileman’s can supply you with the tools to do both. At least, according to Heileman’s marketing campaign in 1945.
Heileman’s was one of many beer companies at mid-century who targeted women because they were becoming the family’s chief consumers. The cold ones didn’t just magically appear in the fridge, after all. This cookbook was a promotion intended to win the loyalty of the lucrative housewife demographic. Amid the recipes for “Sportsman’s Stag Sandwiches” and “Tomato Jelly Sandwiches” (supposedly a Wisconsin favorite) were images of blonde women looking adoringly at the men they were serving.
The ads are cartoonish, and were intended to be over-the-top. But they were part of a much broader debate about the role of women in post-war America. On March 13, 1946, the La Crosse Tribune ran an article titled “Rosie Doing a Fadeout.” The iconic image of Rosie the Riveter -- the strong, hard-working American woman who had been so vital to war work -- was coming into conflict with many Americans’ expectations that servicemen would return to their old jobs and women would return to their pre-war roles. In the article, Department of Labor official Frieda Miller described the transition as a “back-to-the-home” campaign, and she implied that women would fight it.
So as America entered the post-war years, what did the women of La Crosse think about the vastly different models of womanhood that Rosie the Riveter and the Heileman's cookbook represented? Ask the women in your family and let us know.
This article was originally featured in the La Crosse Tribune.