It’s Yesterday Once More: Cocoa Marsh

I first mentioned this product of the 60s as I was reminiscing about television.

First came Bosco, begun in 1928. Think Hershey’s Syrup, but nowhere near as nasty tasting. It made a lovely chocolate milk. And, interestingly enough, still available.


Of course that commercial, insidious as all the best commercials are, comes rushing back from the depths of my memory every time I hear a Bossa Nova beat:

But Bosco was soon aced out of our household by Cocoa Marsh, as I faithfully watched Claude Kirschner’s Three Ring Circus.

Claude Kirschner and Clowny

An older bottle of Cocoa Marsh.


A later bottle of Cocoa Marsh, the kind I was most familiar with.

cocoamarsh (Small)
Embossed on the bottom.

But what was cool about Cocoa Marsh (some have suggested that it contained marshmallow as a smoothing ingredient, hence the name, but I have not yet been able to verify this) was that you could get a pump. Dang, i gotta get me some of that, and as I recall, we did.

$_57 (1)

Notice above two images also carried the name of Yum-Berry, a berry-flavored variety of Cocoa Marsh, which I recall very fondly as well. It was short lived, and lasted only around a year if I remember correctly.

Cocoa Marsh marketed heavily through a variety of channels. The Soda Fountain below took the pump concept to the next level, and it looks familiar enough to me that I’d swear on a stack of Saturday Evening Posts that I owned one.

$_57 (3)

Marketing to older folks was not forgotten as well; here a Lionel O-gauge rail car with Cocoa Marsh vats.


Sadly, despite a massive advertising machine through children’s shows in New York, the product was unable to compete with Nestlé’s Quik™ and Ovaltine™ (which as a kid, I thought tasted like bat guano – sort of like comparing chocolate to carob, and just as disappointing.)

In passing, there were a couple of other products around at the time that popped up on my radar. One was Yoo-Hoo, an odd-tasting concoction that was pitched incessantly by Yogi Berra, and which is still available.


It was very strange tasting indeed, but somehow one got used to it.

The other was Flav-R-Straws, which first showed up in 1956, and which I remember well. They were wildly popular, and I was thoroughly in favor of them.


If only I had a TARDIS.

Edit: As an afterthought, I’m hardly the only one who remembers these things. A line from Diana Rubino’s recent novel, The End of Camelot:

The entire day had her eating Sugar Pops out of the box, washed down with Cocoa Marsh or Yum Berry.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Check out this totally non-bogus book – Fun with Dude and Betty!

Some time ago I found a page from this book on reddit and thought it was hilarious. I must have posted about it on Facebook, because some time later, as part of a surprise package from a good friend in Virginia, along came a copy of it. I was delighted, because it’s such a delightful homage to an era that I grew up in (although as an eastern boy, this language never was part of my ideolect.

Most people from my generation will remember Dick and Jane; here I present to you Dude – Fun with Dude and Betty.


I’d copy the whole thing for you, but that would really be bogus; as the copyright notice states,

“No way can any part of this book be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever unless you get written permission, ’cause that would be fully dropping in, dude. Although you can use short quotations in, like, critical articles and reviews.”

And we don’t want to be bogus. So I’ll give you, like, just one page – the one I found the funniest:


“Bud is harshing on Dude’s mellow” made me laugh harder than it should have. But the whole book is like this, with language and feel straight out of the 60s surfer scene. Tubular, dude!

There’s even a glossary of terminology in the back, for those non-cool dudes and dudettes who didn’t dig this scene as kids. Wait, that may be mixing a bit of 50s beatnik terminology in there, but it’s cool.

If you want to score a copy of this book for yourself, you can find it at Amazon.

The Old Wolf has, like, spoken, dude.

Commerce on the streets of Naples

“The alleys are a self-sufficient microcosm.”

My previous posting of the umbrella repairman reminded me that there are countless other ways that people made a living in Naples, many of them without license or government sanction. Whatever you could do, you could probably find a market for your services.

These photos depict Naples in the 60s. Unless otherwise noted, quoted text and images are from “La Città Parla – Napoli” (1969, Casa Editrice A. Morano di Napoli)

Mattress Maker


Knife Grinder.jpgj

Knife Grinder

Bra Seller

Bra vendor



The “scaccia-malocchio'” (or “guastafatture”) drops by various retailers to practice a ritual with his censer in order to ward off the evil eye. He is sometimes paid for his interventions.

Lighter Repair

Repairing cigarette lighters

Scrivano pubblico

Scrivano pubblico – the public scribe. Many Neapolitans remain functionally illiterate, and these people serve a valuable function.


Selling home-made kazoos.

Water Seller 2


Water Seller



“The ‘pizza oggi ad otto’ (pizza today to eight) is eaten today and paid for in eight days. The wandering pizza vendor is also the bill collector. In eight days you can eat another pizza, which you will pay for sixteen days later. The vendor requires no written invoices – he trusts you… or rather, he trusts that you will be hungry again in eight days.”


Cigarette black market in the alleys – all tobacco and salt trade is regulated by the government. “American Cigarettes” are manufactured from recycled cigarette butts.


Wandering paladins singing historical ballads.

Candy Seller

Candy Vendor


“Impaglia-seggie” – re-caning chairs

Shoe market

Used Shoe Market

“For those who know that elegance begins (not ends) with shoes, buying used shoes for an entire lifetime can be an all-consuming frustration. This is why the sun of the wildest ambition is sometimes seen reflecting brightly from the shiny toes of a pair of patent-leather shoes… brand new ones.”



Graziella was born in 1864. She is seen here 100 years later, selling taralli in Santa Lucia.
Image from The Italians, Face of a Nation by John Phillips.

Naples - da Zio Vincenzo o Piscatore


Back-alley trattoria – “Uncle Vincent the Fisherman.” Photo ©1970 by Old Wolf Enterprises

The Old Wolf has spoken.