This story would be more appropriate for early July — that’s probably when this flag-printed box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes was put on the shelf — but it was just last weekend when I came across it at our Warren Village Market. Of course, in early July, everything including corn chips and cat litter was available in patriotic red, white, and blue, so it really wouldn’t have stood out then.
The front panel features a single flag. The back panel features four historic flags with short descriptions of each. But it’s the side panel that puts an exclamation point on all these flags. It features a copy of their 1952 instructions on how to fly a flag, as well as a picture of their 1952 Corn Flakes box urging consumers to vote (complete with pictures of the presidential candidates).
Americans did a lot of flag waving in 1952. Only recently had senator Joe McCarthy (R – Wisconsin) put the fear of communists among us (and in government) in the peoples hearts. In a witch hunt that lasted nearly a decade (and came to be called McCarthyism) neighbors spied on each other, phone operators reported customers to the police, and everybody put themselves out trying to look like a good patriot.
Labor unions and the entertainment industry became targets of anti-communist investigations. Government leaders came to be judged by how strongly they opposed (or appeared to oppose) communism. Civil liberties were lost, and those who believed in them were labeled communist sympathizers.
Eisenhower, a war hero and a Republican, won that 1952 election, of course.
I wonder why the Kellogg’s folks thought 1952 was so relevant to today?