"The Food focal exhibit was located in Food Building No. 3 (Food South) on Agricultural Row. Distinctive features of this rhomboidal structure were four tall golden shafts resembling stalks of wheat, and, on the facade facing Lincoln Spqure, Witold Gordon's mural depecting food as a source of energy and health." - Opening paragraph from the Official 1939 Guide Book (hard cover)."
Trylon Tidbits for the Food Zone
Small pieces of news and interesting informaton compiled by David J. Cope.
- To insure an accurate attendance account, the pavilion installed an "electric eye." The constant "click-click" soon enthralled young fairgoers who attempted to thwart the counter by breaking the beam with their hands for a double-count or ducking under at a lower level to be missed totally.
- Beechnut hosted a luncheon for news reporters with Carmen Miranda as its honored guest.
- The pavilion gave away an average of 7,000 cups of free coffee a day. By early July, the pavilion had distributed half a million to any fairgoer over the age of eighteen. Cream and sugar came free. An attendant asked one recipient how he liked the coffee. He replied: "I don't like coffee. Never drink it. But when its free, I wouldn't pass it up."
One woman started a brouhaha at the counter when she disclosed she enjoyed a cup of coffee while her husband shaved. Four gentlemen then got into a heated argument over the time required for a shave in the morning.
Another lady approached the counter with a quart of ice cream, requested seven cups, and mixed them in with the ice cream.
- The pavilion attendants distributed the 2,000,000th piece of gum to Mrs. Lucienne Miranda of New York City. It was her first visit to the fair and her first stick of gum.
- Marjorie Wooten costumed the 300 "performers" her husband modeled from clay for the Beechnut Circus. The figures ranged in size form an eleven-inch trapeze girl to a twenty six-inch elephant. One day one of the puppet aerialists dropped a package of Beechnut chewing gum on the animal trainer causing him to "sit down" backwards and direct the animals from that position throughout the day.
- The pavilion displayed Milk Wagon No. 1, first built eighty two-years previously by the company's founder, Gail Borden.
- Milford Bader delivered the milk and its by-products produced at the pavilion to the fair's concessions.
- Following Elsie Borden's wedding on August 7, her handlers took her, in rouge and wedding dress, to be milked far past her usual time.
- Borden waved its rule of not allowing visitors to the cow barn so blind-from-birth Rosa Bernstein could "see by feeling" a cow. She expressed amazement at its size, thinking it to be the size of a collie, and the location of the horns.
- Pavilion employees installed a protective molding around the four-hundred cowhide strips decorating the dioramas illustrating milk production after eager souvenir hunters began snatching them up.
- Mrs. Benjamin Harrison, widow of the former president, stood too close to the outdoor calves' pen. One of the occupants poked its head through the bars and grabbed the hem of the First Lady's dress. Mrs. Harrison won the tug-of-war.
- A reporter passing by the Borden pavilion at 3:00 A.M. noticed a single cow walking up and down the Rotolactor. Her attendant explained: "Insomnia, son. She's got insomnia."
- A sharp – eyed visitor complained that the "stream of milk" pouring from the 40-quart can overhead had accumulated a layer of dust.
- On May 8, the pavilion introduced Green Meadow Melba, a $10,000 prize Guernsey. She produced 15,342 pounds of milk and 963 pounds of butter fat in one year for her owner, Benjamin Riegel of Trion GA. Melba appeared in a special glass enclosure, away from the 150 cattle herd at the pavilion. The Amsterdam News opined: "New York children know so little about country life that they will revel in Melba." Melba returned to her home in Georgia after a month's respite in "The World of Tomorrow."
- The pavilion announced a "Miss Americow" competition between twelve of its herd and three from the Electric Farm and the Firestone exhibit. The judges, including John Powers (of the modeling agency fame), Frank Buck and Norman Bel Geddes, selected six-year-old Ayrshire, from the Borden herd, as the winner.
- Five days before the fair opened, the first calf was born at the pavilion. Three more followed in close succession. The Sun editorialized: "A world's fair would seem to be just about the last place for a calf to be born. It was about the one thing Mr. Whalen did not expect or arrange."
Four little World's Fair calves are we,On the fair's opening day, Sedgely Phede gave birth to a fifty-three-pound Swiss bull calf at 5:30 A.M. On June 7 handlers christened the first-born calf with a bottle of milk and named it "World's Fair Design."
Born in the thick of the pageantry –
All to the fair and the world quite new
Here just in time for a fast preview.
H. I. Phillips
- The pavilion held a mating session every day at 8:00 A.M. Behind canvas curtains, five bulls, one for each breed, did their duty. By the end of the 1939 season, twenty-three calves had been born at the Borden exhibit.
- A note from the University of Arizona Agriculture Extension Service on the Rotolactor: "Never before in the history of dairying have cows been displayed to the public under conditions which so favorably demonstrate the intelligence and dignity of the animals."
- The handlers selected 150 thoroughbred cows from more than 18,000 offered for the display.
- Pete Bluth, recent Michigan State College graduate, recognized Dorothy Lee Parathancea Ormsly, a six-year old participant in the Rotolactor. Bluth attender her since her heifer days on a nearby farm.
- An irate woman accosted the attendant at the Rotolactor: "They say you milk those cows all day long. If that's so, it's downright cruelty and the police ought to be told. Where I come from we milk the cows only twice a Day, once in the morning and again at night. The idea!" The attendant calmly explained the Rotolactor milked the cows only three times a day on a rotating schedule.
- Display artists painted a blue sky with gold leaf stars above the Rotolactor to keep the cows contented.
- The herd of 150 pure-bred cows set an all time milk production record in June, 203,676 pounds of milk: 6,789.3 pounds average daily; 47.9 pounds per cow.
To stimulate interest in its exhibit, loud "mooing" permeated the air around the pavilion. It was soon discovered that the pleasant sounds were coming from a recording. A publicity agent explained: "Can we help it if our cows are so contented that they won't even moo?"
Borden's purchased the mechanical moos from a sound effects library from a choice of thirty-one different ones. Henry William Jeffers, the Rotolactor's inventor and the great-great -grandson of a pirate hanged in 1831, stated: "Oh, yes, the moo is the cow language and I understand it. It's nothing but a common, ordinary stockyard moo - the lonesome kind that a cow who was being taken up the stockyard runway to be knocked on the head would give. Frankly, it grates on my nerves. We'll have to get it changed."
The cows could not hear the "mooing" as the Rotolactor stood in a soundproof enclosure and the loudspeakers only projected onto Constitutional Mall.
However, the cow's "mooing" practically drowned out Secretary of War Patrick J. Hurley as he gave an address before the statue of George Washington. Fair officials rushed to the Borden pavilion, asking the "mooing" be toned down until the speech's conclusion.
- There was no liquor in the Distillery display, just colored water.
- The hydroponic (known at the time as chemiculture) tomatoes had their own attendant who took their temperature and fed them daily. Planted in pure white sand or chemically treated water, they grew to between three and four feet tall. One plant produced twenty-eight tomatoes.
However, the experiment caused a number of problems for the exhibitors. Samuel Galloway Hibbon of the Westinghouse Corporation suggested placing 150 – watt reflector lamps above the plants. They flourished! G. H. Van Vecten, a plant physiologist, discovered looping caterpillars had infiltrated the carefully controlled environment through a microscopic hole adjoining the next room. A chemically safe insecticide did the trick.
- Following in the tradition of its successful distribution of miniature pickle pins at the 1893 Columbian Exposition, the pavilion continued this practice in "The World of Tomorrow." During the first two weeks, fairgoers gobbled up 65,000 of the green souvenirs and 2,000,000 by early August.
- The pavilion did not distribute free pickles to its visitors but did provide tastes of its soup, baked beans, tomato juice and spaghetti sauce. Dorothy Kilgore, a home economics major and dietician, oversaw the forty-three hostesses who distributed the Heinz products.
- An observant waitress in a Manhattan sandwich shop discovered a tomato shaped like the Trylon and Persiphere in a crate of normal tomatoes. She sent it to the Heinz pavilion for display.
- M. Fluegelman, the dean of New York hat makers, created the record-breaking, out-sized top hat for the displays Aristocrat Tomato Man.
- The Lucky Strikes produced on the fairgrounds were "toasted."
- For the autumn, the grass in front of the pavilion was exceptionally green. The gardeners revealed they'd poured a ton and a half of tobacco juice on it in the spring.
- The pavilion showed Walt Disney's "Mickey's Surprise Party" in its intimate movie theater. The plot involved Mickey saving the day with Nabisco products after Minnie burned the biscuits. Disney produced the four-minute Technicolor cartoon for $41,000 – or "10 Gs a minute!"
- The pavilion organized the International League of Leavers of Footprints in the Sands of Time for its Court of Fame. Patterned after the popular Grauman's walk in Hollywood, over two-and-a-half million people walked in the footsteps of J. Edgar Hoover, Babe Ruth, Lowell Thomas, Frank Buck and Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. Perhaps the most notable set of prints was left by Matt Henson, the famed Black explorer and only living survivor of the Perry Polar Expedition.
- Tony Roil worked in the pavilion's forty-degree taproom nine hours each day overseeing eighty to one hundred barrels of beer.
- The pavilion gave away tin "crickets." A gentleman from India requested a box full so his children could use them while standing guard over his cattle. Fifty more mischievous boys on the fairgrounds took them to the Electric Farm and to scare the cows.
- Students at Broadway's Traphagen School of Fashion designed a dress from a new fabric pattern featuring the Sealtest pavilion.
- The pavilion made, molded, packed and distributed 25,000 packages of Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese every day.
- Every evening after the fair closed, a workman hooked on a safety belt to a cable and pulley system and winched his way up the inside of the pavilion's 106 foot tower to open a hidden door and change the date for the following day.
- Columnist Charles Grutzner loved "The tantalizing smell of porcine products coming from the Swift smokehouse which, for some unexplained reason is shaped like a great futuristic airliner."
- Perhaps no industrial pavilion provided a more colorful and press-worthy opening than Swift. Charles H. Swift, chairman of the board, officially opened the pavilion by lighting the wood fire at the bottom of the glass smokehouse. The company invited fifteen boys from the Children's aid Society Newsboys House and thirteen boys and girls from the Hudson Guild. The special guests from New York's famed Hell's Kitchen included Harry (the Greek) Harelambdis, Eli (Fat Stuff) Poiner, Johnny (Mumps) Gallagher, Raymond (Freckles) Billings, and Billy (Short Legs) Gaffney. The young guests were quite blunt: "No speeches. We want hot dogs!"
- Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle, the turn of the century expose of Chicago's meatpacking industry, toured the pristine Swift pavilion and watched as a dozen of young ladies prepared bacon and sausage.
- Harold Wilson, Swift's exhibit manager, held the first "wake," a frankfurter party, for the 1939 season in The Great Ham Hall for his one-hundred employees on October 25.
- The pavilion managers and company executives insisted that frankfurters be referred to as "red hots" rather than the unflattering "hot dog."
- Cora and Bill Baird produced the puppet show presented in the pavilion's lobby.
- Smith sealed the hams prepared in the pavilion in special orange and blue wrappers, the fair's colors, and sold them as souvenirs.
- At a competition between armed forces chefs cooking Swift hams on field stoves, judges award the army chefs the better of the two entries. However, the navy chefs won a consolation prize for the best baked pie.
- A demonstrator at the pavilion had separated 9,000 eggs by June 7, breaking only three yolks in the process. One heckler spent two hours trying to get the young lady rattled. Finally, she "accidentally" dropped an egg on his shoe.
- Three or four hundred of the seven thousand balloons covering the entrance hall to the pavilion had popped by June 8. Only between five and ten are replaced daily due to visitors throwing items at them. The Upholsterer's Union believed he should belong to their organization.
- The pavilion awarded Eileen Stopher the title "Wheatheart of the Fair."
The Wonder Bakery exhibit planted the first wheat field in New York City in over one hundred years. The 11,000 square-foot plot of land contained 13,500 cubic feet of top soil from Long Island farms and peat moss from Sweden. The field produced seven bushels for its summer crop.
To ward off any intruders, Jean Spadea, mannequin artist, designed "the scarecrow of tomorrow" –– Penelope Shoo and introduced her to the general public on June 14. The New York Times labeled her "the hussy scarecrow of Wonder Baker's wheat field." Alice Marble, the world's leading female tennis player commented on Penelope: "What a forehand that girl would have. Too bad she's in the wrong racket."
When it rained, the wheat field farmer's placed an umbrella in Penelope's hand to protect her Hattie Carnegie gown. The fair police "escorted" Miss Shoo to the Operations Building when they discovered her among a group of slightly tipsy revelers. To ward off further drunken escapades, the pavilion's watchmen carried the scarecrow into the pavilion. However, over time, Penelope began to show wear – her pink panties and brassiereless bosom became uncomfortably exposed to all.