Brand New Retro: Christmas Presents Past

Posted December 18, 2021 in Brand New Retro, More


From tins of biscuits and tobacco to packets of cheese and nylons, Brian McMahon of Brand New Retro takes a quick look at vintage adverts for Christmas gifts produced by leading Irish manufacturers.


In 1918, Jacobs launched their USA Assorted biscuit selection to mark the occasion of the USA entering World War I and in 2014 they threatened to start World War III by discarding the jelly star topping from their Afternoon Tea tin. At 1.5kg, the 1979 tins are deeper and heavier than today’s 1kg jelly-free version.

Jacobs and Guinness were the main employers in Ireland for the first half of the 20th century, but by the 1950s Mitchelstown Creameries had moved into second place behind Guinness.

Their Galtee and Calvita brands were ubiquitous in Irish stores and this special cheese gift set from the 1960s is reflective of the poor choice of cheeses available in Irish shops back then. I wonder is this how that Christmas joke about Baby Cheeses originated?

There was a time when almost every Irish man over 50 smoked a pipe. Their tobacco of choice was almost always Mick McQuaid and its unmistakable aroma and attractive round tin made it the perfect Christmas gift for grandad.

Mick McQuaid tobacco first went on sale in 1899 and was produced by PJ Carrolls who had set up their first tobacco factory in Dundalk in 1824. It employed 1100 people in 1979.

For Christmas 1966, Sunbeam Wolsey produced their nylon wallet gift. This sounds like an alternative to the leather purse, a handy pocket-sized folding case made from synthetics for holding your money. But it wasn’t – it was two pairs of stretch nylons wrapped as a gift in a thin cardboard box.

The man in this advert looks very pleased with his purchase though. Sunbeam opened in Cork in 1928 producing knitwear, underwear, outerwear and silk hosiery for more than half a century. It employed over 4000 people in the 1960s.

Happy Christmas everyone and please remember, no dipping into that second layer until the top layer is gone.

Words: Brian McMahon, Brand New Retro

Adverts Source:

Jacobs: Woman’s Way 1979

Mitchelstown Creamery: Woman’s Way 1966

Mick McQuaid: Woman’s Choice 1969

Sunbeam: Woman’s Way 1966


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