A woman smiles as she reaches for a container of Betty Crocker pizza dough mix, in the dairy section of a grocery store.

The Real Betty Crocker May Never Have Existed, but She Still Became a Symbol for American Women

Created as a customer service tool 100 years ago, the fictional character marks the evolution of domesticity in the United States

A flag in New York City's Times Square marks MTV's 40th birthday.

At 40, MTV Is Officially Over the Hill

Born in 1981, the network soon grew to include reality TV and the VMAs. But nothing compares to its glory days of 24/7 music videos

Photograph for a Coca-Cola ad featuring Selena, 1994, by Al Rendon.

Smithsonian Voices

How Do We Remember Selena?

On the anniversary of her 50th birthday, honoring the legacy of the first Tejana singer to top the U.S. Billboard charts with her Spanish-language album

A mid-1970s painting by illustrator Rick Guidice depicts an extraterrestrial colony designed by Princeton University physicist Gerard O'Neill.

How NASA Marketed Its Space Program With Fantastical Depictions of the Future

When it came to exploring the stars, Americans had to see it to believe in it

Quaker Oats announced this week that it will retire the Aunt Jemima name and logo. "We recognize Aunt Jemima’s origins are based on a racial stereotype," said a spokesperson in a statement.

Quaker Oats to Retire Aunt Jemima After Acknowledging Brand's Origins as 'Racial Stereotype'

The breakfast line's rebranding arrives amid widespread protests against systemic racism and police brutality

A previous version of the Land O'Lakes logo, featuring Mia, an indigenous woman dubbed the "Butter Maiden"

Land O'Lakes Drops the Iconic Logo of an Indigenous Woman From Its Branding

The story behind the image, and its removal, led to mixed reactions from the public, including native communities

Strobridge Lithographing Company,
Kellar and His Perplexing Cabinet Mysteries, 1894. Purchase, funds graciously donated by La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso.

The Amazing Poster Art From the 'Golden Age' of Magic

An exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario shows how magicians enticed audiences with advertisements of levitations, decapitations and other deceptions

Two of Antonio Gentile's original Mr. Peanut sketches from 1916.

History of Now

Mr. Peanut Was the Creation of an Italian-American Schoolboy

One of the most iconic food brands was born in the imagination of a teenager, Antonio Gentile. Curator Kathleen Franz introduces the story

Record companies released stereo demonstration albums that showcased how sound could move from left to right, creating a sense of movement.

How Savvy Advertising Helped Make Stereo Technology Mainstream

Stereo demonstrations and colorful ads sold customers on the two-channel sound technology when it was introduced 60 years ago

This advertisement from San Francisco-based electronic cigarette company JUUL calls back the tobacco advertisements from the mid-20th century.

Ads for E-Cigarettes Today Hearken Back to the Banned Tricks of Big Tobacco

A new 'Joe Camel'-esque phenomenon may be igniting as the new fad takes a 21st-century page out of an old playbook

What the First Radio Commercial Jingle Sounded Like

Wheaties was one of the first companies to recognize the enormous potential of radio as an advertising tool

Likenesses of American Indians have been used to sell everything from cigars to station wagons.

Probing the Paradoxes of Native Americans in Pop Culture

A new exhibition picks apart the cultural mythologies surrounding the first “Americans”

These Billboards Could Be the First to Feature Immersive Virtual Reality Drawings

Tandem billboards on Sunset Boulevard play host to a fascinating new public art installation

H. J. Heinz started a condiment empire. His savvy marketing helped.

There Never Were 57 Varieties of Heinz Ketchup

The '57' doesn't actually refer to <I>anything</i>

This portrait by an anonymous photographer shows the face of the man who popularized the flush toilet: Thomas Crapper.

Three True Things About Sanitary Engineer Thomas Crapper

Thomas Crapper's actual innovation was entirely tangential to the flush toilet

A friendly Nauga.

How the Nauga and its Fictional Friends Helped Make Synthetic Fabric Cuddly

What started out as an advertising ploy turned into a low-key cultural phenomenon

Bishop's long-lasting lipstick was advertised as "kissable."

Chemist Hazel Bishop's Lipstick Wars

Bishop said her advantage in coming up with cosmetics was that, unlike male chemists, she actually used them

That yellow logo? A Dalí original, every one.

From Melting Clocks to Lollipops, Salvador Dalí Left His Mark on the Visual World

The Surrealist artist's "pure, vertical, mystical love of cash" led him to advertising

A still from the 2015 film The Big Short, featuring actors Billy Magnussen and Max Greenfield.

New Research

From Budweiser to Heineken, Alcohol Brands Are Rampant in Hollywood Films

Over the past two decades, even G-rated films have amped up the booze labels

A poster by artist Edward Penfield promotes The Woman’s Land Army of America, created to encourage women to step into agricultural jobs after men were called into military service.

These Powerful Posters Persuaded Americans It Was Time to Join the Fight

The Smithsonian offers a rare opportunity to see an original iconic Uncle Sam "I Want You" poster, among others, of the World War I era

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