What You Actually Got From Those Back-of-Magazine Ads

In the days before Google, a tiny, cryptic ad in the back of a magazine had a lot of potential. The seller might not be able to fully describe their product, but if the product wasn’t very good, that may be a plus for them. Here are some bait-and-switch ads from the 1950s and beyond, and what you’d get if you sent in for them.


2 Way Portable Radio Set

The ad: TESTED—PROVEN—SIMPLIFIED—PRACTICAL

The reality: You do get an actual radio—in pieces or fully assembled, depending on how much you paid—but it was not a very good one. ““I remember seeing an ad for the bn-1 when I was a novice and taking offense at the word ‘novice’ emblazoned on the face of the poorest excuse for a lunchbox with knobs I had ever envisioned,” one ham radio aficionado wrote in 2009.

 

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