It’s the eve of Labor Day — what better time to talk about that great symbol of militant labor and refrigerator deodorizing, the ARM & HAMMER?
I have in the past wondered about a given trademark and found, to my surprise, that as well known as it was, the trademark story itself had gotten scant attention. This was certainly the case regarding the now-defunct trademark, BATES STAMP. Not so, however, regarding the Hammer.
When you see this symbol you probably just think of baking soda. But, comrades, to bake a few eggs, you know, you’ve got to, um, hammer some shells. As one interesting little web page, obsessed (interestingly) with the link between what we’re talking about here and, um, Al Gore, explains (and demonstrates by competent evidence):
[T]he Arm and Hammer symbol does not originate with the Church family business, but rather has been widely used by others for other purposes. Traditionally, the Arm and Hammer image symbolizes manufacturing or industry, as for example on Wisconsin’s Coat of Arms and State Flag.
In Lewisburg, Ohio in 1932, an Arm and Hammer rubber stamp was used to cancel postage (www.stuartkatz.com/fancycovers3.htm), the symbol presumably employed here in its reference to manufacturing or industry.
To approach closer to the point, the symbol was also adopted by the American Socialist Labor Party, a precursor of the American Communist Party. Why should Socialists or Communists have been drawn to the arm and hammer? One imagines primarily because of its association with labor; however, the image may also carry a suggestion of militancy, of a powerful arm able to smash opposition.
You can start out, of course, with the official story from the Church & Dwight people, who make Arm & Hammer baking soda and rightly write to celebrate their famous brand, which, baking-s0da-wise, is described not as the symbol of manual labor (more on that below) but as “the standard of purity”:
When you think of ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda, you think of our little yellow box. That box has a lot of history – and the high quality it represents is appreciated by a new generation. For more than 165 years, people have chosen pure, versatile, effective, environmentally safe and economical ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda for baking and countless household & personal care uses.
Today, consumers appreciate that ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda is an effective, yet gentle cleaner and a real alternative to using harsh chemicals, which makes it great for use around food, kids, and pets. It can also be used to replace other household and personal items that may have ingredients that are harmful to the environment.
For more than 165 years, Church & Dwight Co., Inc., the makers of ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda, have been a fixture in your home. Our yellow box is so familiar and our logo is one of the most trusted trademarks. Follow our Timeline to see how ARM & HAMMER™ Baking Soda, and our company, has developed over the years.
True dat. But not de whole true.