Friday, September 27, 2019

Soup's on! Bring in the Manhandlers | Advertising Age

Oh. Oh dear. Oh no. 

First of all, let’s all give Campbell’s a pass on this one. Who among us would want to be remembered for our cheeky humor, taken out of context 50 years after the fact? And yet. Here we have a soup company presumably worried that its core product wasn’t macho enough to consume without shame. The solution: A new line called “Manhandlers,” introduced in 1968—a terrible year in American history by just about any measuring stick.

According to company lore, Manhandlers were male-oriented soups (let that combination of words sink in for a second) created in response to requests from homemakers for more substantial foods for their spouses. It even came with a catchy jingle, which you can find online. “How do you handle a hungry man? The Manhandlers!” While the specter of frustrated housewives clamoring in droves for heartier broth-based sustenance sounds apocryphal at best, we’ll take Campbell’s at their word here. 

This particular ad—as chunky and manly in design as the soups it’s shilling—ran in Life magazine in 1970. Here we have stockpot soup, noodles and ground beef soup, vegetable beef soup and plain old beef soup, all tasty enough for a woman but pH balanced for a man. Why stop there? Why not Campbell’s Manhandler’s chunky football and gun belt bouillabaisse? Or Campbell’s Canadian Club secretary grab-ass stew? It was 1970, after all.

The Manhandlers (the name will never not be funny) was a predecessor to Campbell’s Chunky soup, introduced in 1970 and boasting of larger-than-usual pieces of meat and veggies. Chunky still exists as a soup. Manhandlers, unfortunately, only still exist in human form. 


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