Corn Flakes, McCarthy, and Flag Wavers

Front of Kellogg's Flag Box.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?

2 thoughts on “Corn Flakes, McCarthy, and Flag Wavers

  1. In the interest of historical accuracy, here’s a snippet from Ronald Radosh’s article “The Red ‘Scare’ Was Real”:

    The Venona project files – thousands of decrypted 1940s cables between the KGB in Moscow and its agents in New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, only released to the public beginning in 1995 – makes the evidence overwhelming. Thanks to Venona, we have definitive proof of the guilt of Alger Hiss and Julius Rosenberg, as well as the most important American atomic spy, Theodore Hall.

    But Venona also revealed that the KGB had among its agents such people as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury Harry Dexter White; the chief of the State Department’s Division of American Republics, Laurence Duggan; the head of the State Department’s Latin American Division, Maurice Halperin; and Lauchlin Currie, administrative aide and State Department liaison to Presidents Roosevelt and Truman.

    Venona in fact confirmed what anti-Communists had argued at the time, and which their detractors, the anti anti-Communists, had always denied: There was a successful and dangerous Soviet penetration of our government, as well as a network of spies working for the KGB.

    It also has been established that many of them were recruited directly out of the ranks of the American Communist Party. Contrary to what the left of the time had maintained – that the Communists were small, insignificant and hardly a danger – there was in fact good reason to view them not simply as members of an unpopular but legal political party, but as potential spies in waiting. The CP-USA was, as scholars Harvey Klehr and John Haynes have written, “indeed a fifth column working inside and against the United States in the Cold War.”

    I think it’s important to note that Radosh is a former member of the Communist Party USA.

    Read the rest of the article here:

Comments are closed.