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© Pat Power
September 2003


The type "Eventually" is a slogan from Gold Metal Flour ads.

Flour may be the ultimate take-for-granted supermarket staple, an item we blithely toss into our cart as we move on to the next aisle in the grocery store. But 135 years ago, snowy white, high-grade wheat flour was a big deal. If available at all, it was produced locally, in small amounts. As a result, the flour was expensive and the quality was, at best, uneven.

But Minneapolis millers -- the Washburns, Crosbys, Pillsburys and their peers -- were a forward-thinking bunch, and they made their mills the Microsofts of their time. They tossed out the antiquated millstone process, imported the latest European milling technology, adapted it to local conditions and installed it into mammoth facilities, chiefly the Washburn A mill, built in 1878 on the river's west bank, and the Pillsbury A mill, which opened across the river in 1881. Both were so impressive that each company prominently featured diagrams of their world-wonder facilities in their advertising.

Flour also laid the foundation of modern consumer advertising. As mills proliferated near the falls, flour made the transition from a generic, scooped-out-of-a-barrel product into a name-brand entity, with each mill establishing a name, logo and aura for its product through packaging and extensive promotions. The industry was a leader in numerous brand-loyalty advancements, which included such campaign slogans as Washburn Crosby's "Eventually, Why Not Now?" and Pillsbury's "Because Pillsbury's Best." The mills created groundbreaking radio sponsorship and the creation of advice-dispensing spokeswomen, most notably Washburn Crosby's enduring Betty Crocker.

But I still don't what "Eventually, Why Not Now?" means. To me in the collage, it means death.