With our 2021 holiday catalog being the first catalog we’ve had out since the 1960s, it got us wondering about how far back holiday catalogs actually go. So, we did a little research and this is what we found out:

The Patron Saint of Advertising

One of America’s first mail-order merchants is believed to be none other than Benjamin Franklin. Sure, Franklin invented a lot of things in his lifetime: bifocals, the lightning rod, swimming fins, and even a wood stove that bears his name. But mail order?

Image: Stuckey’s Corp

Well, it only makes sense seeing how Franklin began his career as a postmaster general in 1737. While serving under that position in 1744, he printed his own mail-order catalog of science books that would make him the Jeff Bezos of his time. No wonder they nicknamed him “The Patron Saint of Advertising.”

Still, it wouldn’t be until after the Civil War when a man by the name of Aaron Montgomery Ward arrived on the scene that mail order catalogs really took off.

The Montgomery Ward Catalog

During the Industrial Revolution, farmers were desperate to cut out the middleman and sell their crops and other goods among each other. At the time, the middleman often overpriced their goods so that he could make a good percentage off of the profit of his customers. Montgomery Ward had the perfect plan to help the farmers out — he would create a catalog of everything he had in the store and give mail order customers the manufacturer’s discount, thus cutting out the high cost of the middleman. Ward would print his first mail order catalog in August 1872. Along with ordering instructions, it listed 163 articles for sale on an 8” x 12” single-sheet price list. It was an immediate success among those living in rural areas.

The Sears Catalog and the Christmas Wish Book

Image: Stuckey’s Corp.

Franklin may have invented the mail-order business and Montgomery Ward may have improved it, but it was Richard Warren Sears and Alvah C. Roebuck who perfected it. They printed their first Sears and Roebuck catalog in 1893, and just three years later, in 1896, it expanded into seasonal and specialty catalogs.

Though these catalogs included wax candles for Christmas trees in 1896, Christmas cards and candy in 1898, and artificial Christmas trees and lights in 1912, they wouldn’t start their official Christmas catalog until 1933. It included 62 pages for adults and 25 pages of toys including the Miss Pigtails doll, a Mickey Mouse watch, Lionel trains, a five-pound box of chocolates, fruitcakes and live canaries. The Sears Christmas catalog would prove to be their most popular catalog every year after — a trend which would continue even after Sears changed its name to the “Sears Wish Book” in 1968.

Over the decades, the Sears Wish Book would serve as inspiration for many American families at Christmastime. Nonetheless, like all good things that must come to an end, the Sears Wish Book ceased being published 2011. Though they did try to revive a shorter version in 2017, it just wasn’t the same.

The Stuckey’s Catalog

Of course, Sears wasn’t the only company to produce a mail order catalog just in time for the holidays. The likes of L.L. Bean, Spencer Gifts, Neiman Marcus, FAO Schwarz and, yes, even Stuckey’s, also put out catalogs during the holiday season up until the 1960s.

Image: Stuckey’s Corp.

Back then, the Stuckey’s catalog included assorted and exotic candies like the Zombie — “the newest taste sensation of the nation” made with coconut and a light touch of “rare and imported rums.” There were also wide varieties of jams and jellies, and of course, fine pecan candies including Stuckey’s world famous Pecan Log Roll.

Now, after nearly 60 years, you can order all the Stuckey’s goodness you remember including our newest gift tins, candy gift boxes, gift shop bags, and other assorted gift tins just in time for the holidays. (And don’t forget Stuckey’s Pecan Log Rolls make great stocking stuffers.) This year, for the first time since the 1960s, shop our Stuckey’s catalog online, or order a hard copy here.

  STUCKEY’S BLACK FRIDAY SPECIALS  

If you hop over to Stuckeys.com and order from there from Friday, November 26, to Monday, November 29, you’ll also get:
 
– A free 2oz. Stuckey’s Pecan Log Roll
– Free shipping on orders of $50 or more  

Note: This deal does not apply to our catalog at stuckeysgifts.com!  

What Will Be In Your Mystery Box?  

Order a Stuckey’s Mystery Box during our Black Friday Weekend, and you might be the lucky winner of a super-duper-special Stuckey’s product — a vintage Stuckey’s Fire King Coffee Club Mug. We’re only giving out one.   So will it be in your Mystery Box? There’s only one way to find out! Order yours this weekend!  

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