Vintage Adverts

The Australian Women’s Weekly, Saturday 10 January 1942

I had thought that insecticides before and during WW2 were DDT based. How wrong can I be? Wikipedia set me right.

The original product, launched in 1923 and mainly intended for killing flies and mosquitoes, was mineral oil based and manufactured by the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey before the company, now part of ExxonMobil, renamed itself first Esso and later Exxon. Later marketed as “FLIT MLO,” it has since been discontinued. A hand-operated device called a Flit gun was commonly used to perform the spraying.

In 1928 Flit became the subject of a very successful long running advertising campaign. Theodor Seuss Geisel created the artwork for this campaign, years before he started writing the children’s books that made him famous as Dr. Seuss. The ads typically showed people threatened by whimsical, menacing insect-like creatures that will look familiar to fans of Dr. Seuss’s later work and contained the tagline “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” This advertising campaign continued for 17 years and made “Quick, Henry, the Flit!” into a popular catchphrase in the United States.

It seems I was not completely wrong. DDT was discovered to have insectidal properties in 1939 and by the middle of WW2 was being added to Flit.

This has been today’s lesson from the Archive. With added Dr Seuss!

One response to “Vintage Adverts

  1. Clearly, it worked reasonably well without the persistent organic pollutant added. One sighs at the naivete of past eras, though it’s always harder to see the beam in one’s own eye.


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