In every issue of The Stars and Stripes American companies and organizations, as well as French eateries and shops, competed for the attention of the servicemen with advertisements aimed at enticing the doughboys (as American soldiers were called). Although the advertisements exhibited considerable reserve and decorum by today's standards, their content was intended to appeal to the almost exclusively male audience.
Companies as diverse as American Express, American Safety Razor, Gillette, Credit Lyonnais Bank, and Brentano's Books, along with organizations such as the YMCA, Christian Science Reading Rooms, the Harvard Club of Paris, and the Jewish Welfare Board, courted the soldiers' business. Wrigley's Chewing Gum was a regular advertiser, boasting that "even before American soldiers and sailors landed, the British, Canadian and French forces had adopted Wrigley's as their wartime sweetmeat" (May 10, 1918, p. 8, col. 5).*
Absent today's truth-in-advertising regulations and product liability lawsuits, tobacco ads, such as those claiming that Fatima cigarettes were the brand smoked by the most important people in Washington, appeared in almost every issue. Other products made excessive claims, as well. Adams Chewing Gum, for example, was said not only to relieve thirst, but also to prevent fatigue among weary soldiers on the march. In advertisements such as these, appearing throughout the pages of The Stars and Stripes, American and French companies reveal what they imagined might allure the doughboys, thereby offering insight into the popular culture of American soldiers of the time.
*Unless otherwise noted all references are to The Stars and Stripes.