Mass Materialism

As Americans increasingly established small, self-contained households in the suburbs, the nuclear family emerged as the leader in consumer spending and became a popular focus of mass marketing. This pair of advertisements from 1946 captures that dynamic, showing father and son and mother and daughter each performing household chores made easier with magnesium. Dow’s promise of “better products, for a better life” emphasized the value of materials that made everyday tasks less time consuming and contributed to an ethos of mass consumption as the pinnacle of modernization.

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