Toora Vale Ice Company, Berri: The Ice Man Was Never Like This (1934)
In this animated cinema advertisement from the 1930s, a tradesperson is fixing a broken electric refrigerator in the kitchen.
A male voice-over suggests an ice refrigerator is superior because 'ice never breaks down’.
Men carrying large blocks of ice on their shoulders file into the home. Each block carries a written slogan highlighting the benefits of ice including, ‘ice saves more than it costs’, ‘ice saves food waste’, ‘ice means safe food’ and ‘ice does not dry out the food’.
Summary by Poppy De Souza.
Animated slogans in this advertisement effectively promote the use of ice in refrigeration. The number of men carrying ice blocks allows for repetition and reinforcement of the economic and health benefits of ice refrigeration. The final animated scene consists of a two-dimensional static background and a moving foreground.
The Ice Man Was Never Like This synopsis
This animated cinema advertisement for Toora Vale Ice Company promotes the benefits of ice refrigeration.
The Ice Man Was Never Like This curator's notes
The title of this advertisement, The Ice Man Was Never Like This, pre-empts the theme – that electrical refrigeration is less reliable than ice refrigeration. To reinforce the message, a repair man in the ad attempts to fix a broken electric fridge. Simple animation builds the case for using ice by adding slogans to the large blocks of ice which are delivered to the home. In the pre-CGI era, superimposing slogans onto the ice was not possible in a live-action advertisement.
In the 1930s, the Toora Vale Ice Company was based in Monash, outside of Berri in South Australia. In the 1940s, the company stopped selling ice and began farming potatoes, harvested by members of the Australian Women’s Land Army. No longer operating under the Toora Vale name, but still based in Monash, the company now produces glacé fruit.
Notes by Poppy De Souza
This black-and-white clip shows an animated cinema advertisement for the Toora Vale Ice Company that promotes ice refrigerators over electric ones. It opens with a repairman crouching before a broken electric refrigerator as an alarmed housewife looks on and the narrator predicts the family will soon replace the ‘costly’ electric refrigerator with an ‘economical’ ice one. A row of men then deliver large blocks of ice to the house, and each block has a written slogan describing the benefits of ice, such as ‘ice never breaks down’. The clip has a music soundtrack and intertitles.
Educational value points
- This advertisement was made in response to the growing popularity of electric refrigerators, which by the 1930s had become more reliable and cost about the same as ice refrigerators to purchase and maintain without the inconvenience of replacing ice. First marketed in the 1900s, early electric refrigerators were expensive, often broke down and contained flammable refrigerants that were lethal to inhale, which is why the clip stresses that ice is safe and reliable.
- Slogans and imagery are used in the advertisement to persuade viewers that ice refrigerators are more reliable, safe, efficient and economical than electric ones. The narrator’s authoritative tone adds credibility to this message, which is reinforced by the repeated slogans on the blocks of ice. While claims such as ‘ice keeps food fresh’ are true of all refrigerators, by showing a broken electric refrigerator the clip implies that such features are exclusive to ice refrigerators.
- The high humidity of ice refrigerators kept food from drying out and thus, it was argued, prevented food waste and saved money; in contrast, early electric refrigerators tended to dry out food, a problem compounded by the absence of separate compartments for foodstuffs. Electric refrigerators did not have freezer compartments, whereas as the clip points out ice refrigerators provided ice to add to drinks at ‘the doings’ (social events).
- The contrast between the first scene, where the housewife is harried and the kitchen is in disarray with refrigerator parts and contents strewn across the floor, and the final scene, which shows a new ice refrigerator, an orderly kitchen and a smiling housewife, illustrates that ‘ice saves ma heaps of worry’. This is reinforced by the musical track that accompanies the smiling ice man, a benign figure who a housewife would happily allow into her home.
- Ice refrigerators, also known as ice chests, were usually made of metal or wood, insulated with materials such as cork or sawdust and lined with tin, zinc or porcelain. They worked by placing a large block of ice in a top compartment. Water from the melted ice was collected in a drip pan, which was emptied daily. Most ice blocks weighed either 25 pounds or 50 pounds (about 11 kg or 22 kg), sizes designed to fit in refrigerators, and were replaced about every three days.
- The advertisement uses cell animation – instead of redrawing the entire scene for each frame, the scene was drawn in parts on layers of thin transparent celluloid plastic or ‘cells’. For example in this clip the static background may have been drawn on the first cell, the ice man and the block of ice on the next cell and the slogan on the ice block on the final cell. Thus the slogan could be altered without redrawing the whole scene.
Education notes provided by The Learning Federation and Education Services Australia