These days, the Commission is exclusively dedicated to foreign trade programs, industry organizations, and logo protections. But our archive of magazine ads, TV spots, and promotional displays dates back to the early 1930s — and showcases our long history of celebrating everyone’s favorite fruit.
The newly formed Washington Apple Commission used assessments from apple growers to expand their advertising program to include full pages in Life, Woman’s Home Companion, Good Housekeeping, and other magazines. Radio ads, subway posters, and billboards started popping up around the country as a strong interest in the powerful “health” story for apples started to develop.
During World War II, advertising paused — price controls made it unnecessary — and the Commission instead invested in industry research around fruit maturity, storage, retail handling, and packing. Professor Earl Carlson from Washington State College was hired to organize a full-time research department, which led to bruise reduction practices in the orchard and packing house, as well as in transit. He also explored early tests of packing apples in plastic bags, automatic box filling, and mechanical packing equipment.
After the war, the Commission and apple shippers united to restore demand for apples and increase sales in a competitive market. Their biggest-in-history sales push in 1948 cost nearly $500,000 — and was a huge success.
In the early part of the decade, the National Apple Institute, an association organized by the Washington Apple Commission, directed its campaign at the dental and medical profession, dietitians, and schools. By 1953, more than 500 copies of dental health films were circulated throughout the country, promoting the apple as “Nature’s Toothbrush” – with the blessing of the American Dental Association.
The Commission celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 1957, along with its position as a leader in the nation’s marketplace. Grocery chains on both coasts believed in the power of Washington apple growers. According to the Produce Manager for Von’s Grocery stores: “We sincerely believe that the enterprising policies of Washington apple growers have, to a great degree, set the promotional pace for many other segments of the fresh produce industry.