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York’s O-SO-GUD Pretzels go Nationwide

Part of Ad in The Evening News (Harrisburg, PA) October 27, 1927
Part of Ad in The Evening News (Harrisburg, PA) October 27, 1927

In 1922, the York Pretzel Bakery, at 419 South Pattison Street, pioneered an item we all know today as pretzel sticks. They received protection on their branding of this product; when the United States Patent and Trademark Office granted the “SLIM JIM” registered trademark for their pretzel sticks on August 23, 1923.

The National Biscuit Company acquired the York Pretzel Bakery in 1925. The company, who then operated under the “N. B. C.” and “Uneeda” trademarks and eventually shorting their name to Nabisco, conducted an extensive country-wide marketing campaign in 1927 that featured “O-SO-GUD” Pretzels and “SLIM JIM” Pretzel Sticks.

A box of SLIM JIM Pretzel Sticks is shown in this illustration from a nationwide National Biscuit Company newspaper ad from that 1927 campaign. It is difficult to read, however under the SLIM JIM trademark is “Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.” signifying SLIM JIM is a Registered Trademark granted by the United States Patent Office. The ad text states, “Called Slim Jim for a good reason. Ask your grocer. In handy packages bearing the N. B. C. Uneeda trademark.” If you are reading this on the Ydr.com site, click on this LINK for a Full View of the illustrations in this post on the original YorkBlog site; since the ydr.com site will occasionally cut off important details in the cropping of illustrations.

As a purely local company, the York Pretzel Bakery marketed their pretzel products primarily in the eastern and upper midwestern parts of the country. After acquiring the bakery in 1925, the quick actions of the National Biscuit Company left no doubt that “O-SO-GUD” Pretzels and “SLIM JIM” Pretzel Sticks would go nationwide.

Their first action increased the capacity of the York Pretzel Bakery facility by constructing an addition. Their second action provided an additional pretzel bakery facility, which was closer to markets in the western and southern parts of the country. In September 1926, an underutilized cracker bakery on Second and Francis Streets in St. Joseph, Missouri, was converted into the company’s second pretzel bakery.

The proven pretzel making know-how from the York bakery was duplicated at the St. Joseph bakery. Comments about these two pretzel bakeries occasionally appeared in Missouri newspapers, such as a 1933 article in the Moberly Monitor-Index. In discussing the shipment of a railcar load of pretzels on the Wabash, the article noted,

The pretzels were shipped from the National Biscuit Co.’s factory at St. Joseph, Mo., said to be the second largest concern of its kind in the United States. … The company’s largest plant is at York, Pa.

As far as I could tell, these two facilities remained the only National Biscuit Company bakeries devoted exclusively to pretzel baking, well into the 1950s.

With both pretzel bakeries in full operation, the national ad campaign devoted exclusively to their pretzel products was launched on July 22, 1927. One part of the campaign was this page-length ad appeared in newspapers across the country; featuring “O-SO-GUD” Pretzels and “SLIM JIM” Pretzel Sticks. The pretzel products originally created by the York Pretzel Bakery in York, Pennsylvania.


This ad campaign received numerous reviews, some even several days before the initial ads appeared. Quoting the opening paragraphs in a July 20, 1927, article within The Wilkes-Barre Record:

National Biscuit Co. starts a vigorous advertising campaign on pretzels in the Record Friday. The advertisements will run twice a week. Each insertion covers two columns the full depth of the page. All advertisements feature Slim Jim Pretzel Sticks, which are put up in packages, and the O-So-Gud twisted pretzels sold in bulk. All of the advertisements of this series are very light and breezy and talk about not only pretzels but also pretzeleers and pretzeleering. There seems to be something just a little bit humorous about pretzels and the National Biscuit Co. has taken full advantage of this feeling. While the advertising is not in any sense a collection of jokes, yet the writer has been allowed to develop a humorous idea pleasantly. Each advertisement is illustrated with a cartoon and carries the catch line “Bite Yourself an Alphabet.” Quoting from the first advertisement of the series: “There’s a new order—the Order of Pretzeleers.”

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