I Love Lucy. Twisted ads of yore, featuring babies and cigarettes. The bizarre, dark history of Mother’s Day. What do these three things all have in common? 

Um, this blog post, for one. Read on to make further sense of that.

The Mother of the Best Commercial that Never Was

Here’s an iconic pitch from the classic TV show, I Love Lucy. Seriously, who doesn’t find this clip funny? 

Now for the fun fact that connects this to the theme of this blog post: 

I Love Lucy was the first major television show to openly show a pregnant woman. And it was SHOCKING. 

Network and advertising bigwigs got their knickers in a colossal twist over it, fearing it would alienate conservative audiences. 

Because, you know, acknowledging pregnancy, means acknowledging the existence of the activity that leads to baby-making.

At the time, it was so controversial, they almost cancelled the show. Yet, despite all the hullabaloo, the pregnancy episode, “Lucy Is Enceinte,” (a.k.a. “Knocked-Up”) aired in 1952, making television history (score one for women and motherhood).

Mama Drama: A True Disturbing History of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day (as we know it), exists largely due to the initiative of a woman called Anna Reeves Jarvis.

Weirdly, she trademarked the phrase “Second Sunday in May, Mother’s Day, Anna Jarvis, Founder” in 1912. 

Mother’s Day became a national holiday in 1914 (courtesy of Woodrow Wilson) and it quickly became a gold mine for businesses—with the buying and selling of Hallmark cards, flowers, candy, and other gifts.  

Well, that really pissed Anna Jarvis off.  

She wanted the day to be about sentiment—not profit. 

Enraged by the commercialization of the holiday, she dedicated the rest of her life—and her inheritance—to fighting it, trying to turn the holiday back into what she’d intended. 

Jarvis actually organized protests against Mother’s Day, threatened lawsuits, and called for boycotts (in one notable instance, interrupting a candy makers’ convention). In 1925, she crashed an American War Mothers meeting (because they were selling carnations for Mother’s Day to raise funds) and was arrested for disturbing the peace.

In the end, Anna’s crusade against the holiday she had been instrumental in creating, cost her everything—she died penniless in a sanitarium.

Sad trombone.

Oh, BTW. The National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that in 2019, consumers will spend $25 billion celebrating Mother’s Day, and shoppers will spend an average of $196.00 on Mom. 

What’s Worse—Labor or These Vintage Ads?

Just to round things out, we’d like to share a few amazingly messed up vintage ads relating to Mother’s day and motherhood, because, hey, it’s the theme of this post.

Also, it may give you some good gift ideas (hello, cedar chest and a pack of smokes)…

Finally, dept of creative would like to express gratitude to our mothers and to your mother—for giving birth to you because you are now reading this.

If you want to read more interesting tidbits on the subject of Mother’s Day, check out the links below: