1937 George Burns and Gracie Allen [for Grape Nuts]
1938 Chesterfield Time with George Burns and Gracie Allen
1940 The Hinds Honey and Almond Cream Program
1940 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show [for Hormel]
1941 Well I Swan [for Swan Soap Flakes and Detergent]
1945 Maxwell House Coffee Time
1949 The Amm-i-dent Show
Needless to say, as George Burns and Gracie Allen’s fame and popularity continued to rise there were no end of sponsors willing to promote their goods with Burns & Allen as their headliners.
Gracie Allen before a 1937 NBC mike
Grape Nuts adds another winner to their Radio lineup
From the very inception of locally and regionally ‘broad-cast’ Radio C.W. Post was one of the more prolific early sponsors of local, regional and eventually nationally broadcast Radio. C.W. Post’s ‘Grape-Nuts’ was one of the more interesting–and profitable–early accidents in his company’s history. As the story goes, Charles William Post’s various stays at John Harvey Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium exposed him to Kellogg’s many cereal concoctions which were part of Kellogg’s health regimen. Post developed his own first breakfast cereal while experimenting with baked ‘sheets’ of wheat bran, barley, and maltose (then referred to as grape sugar). When in 1897 one batch of those sheets of cereal appeared to be particularly difficult to process as flakes, it occured to Post to grind up the resulting sheets. He reported that the overwhelming scent of the ground up sheets had a distinctly ‘grape sugar’ smell to them, hence conferring the name “Grape-Nuts” on the result. The rest, as the overworked phrase goes, ‘was history.’
C.W. Post’s company Postum Cereals merged with Jell-O in 1925 and Maxwell House Coffee in 1928, resulting in the General Foods Corporation. General Foods sponsored hundreds of Radio programs throughout the Golden Age of Radio. The following Radio programs were among those specifically sponsored by General Foods’ Grape-Nuts Cereal:
1933 The Adventures of Admiral Byrd
1937 The Burns and Allen Program
1938 Al Pearce and His Gang
1942 The Grape Nuts Program [Jack Benny]
1944 The Adventures of Hop Harrigan
1944 The Aldrich Family
1949-1954 Gang Busters
George Burns and Gracie Allen move their franchise to NBC
One of the more unlikely duos to achieve Entertainment World super-stardom, Jewish-born Nat Birnbaum [Stage name George Burns] and Irish Catholic-born Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen grew up worlds apart in myriad ways. Nat from New York and Grace from San Francisco found each other in New Jersey, Birnbaum performing a vaudeville act with then partner Lorraine. Grace reportedly approached Birnbaum after his ‘Burns & Lorraine’ act about working in vaudeville and ‘George Burns’ offered her a suggestion that she work with him. That was 1922. The act became a couple, and the couple married shortly after meeting. Continuing to slug it out in vaudeville for another five years, Burns & Allen soon caught the attention of the Film Industry and its search for comedy teams for its growing production of ‘talkies’ of the era. Burns & Allen were featured in several Vitaphone Shorts of the era, eventually leading them into featured guest appearances over network Radio. As the guest appearances grew more frequent, Burns & Allen’s novel ‘dumb Dora’ act acquired exponentially more fans.
From the April 3rd 1938 edition of the Wisconsin State Journal:
By Gracie Allen:
Myself and Radio
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of radio articles written for Central Press and The State Journal by Leading personalities of the ether.
George came home tonight and told me that I would have to write a little article for all you folks to I decided to call it “Myself and Radio,” on account of that’s what’s been bothering me for some time–which came first–myself or radio?
George tells me that I’ve been on the air for almost six years now but whenever I turn on the radio in our house I never get me. I think–I do, too, George (George is peeking over my shoulder while I write)–I think that the trouble is with our radio. I mean I think it’s the wrong kind. After all, it’s only a little wooden box with a few wires leading out of it and it only has two or three knobs. All it ever does is play music or talk.
Men In a Cage
In the studios where I work–now, George, stop it–! (George is laughing so hard about something that I can’t think)–well, anyhow, in the studios the radio is much larger. It’s all in a glass cage with three men in it and it has a lot of wires running out of it and 10 or 20 knobs and a lot of little levers and colored lights.
It plays music and talks and the three little men run around and wave and make faces and I like that. It’s much nicer than my radio at home and when I talk into a little black box on the stage I get me and sometimes George and that’s much better–I mean when I get me.
George tells me that I don’t really know how lucky I am that I don’t have to listen to myself, but George exaggerates so and is such a flatterer that you never know whether he really means all the nice things he says or not.
Every week I get hundreds of letters that say “Gracie please stop it”, “Gracie, get off the air” and things like that. That brings up another thing that puzzles me (the list is so long). Why is it that so many of the people who write me, especially the ones that send me compliments like the above are almost always named “Anonymous.” I’ve looked in the phone book and I’ve never found anybody by that name and yet there must be because their letters come from all over the country.
It sounds Greek or something to me and maybe the Greeks don’t have telephones in their restaurants on accounta if you ever ate in a Greek restaurant you know why?
But whatever it is (George just said maybe their name was “Legion” but that’s awfully silly unless it’s their first name) people certainly wouldn’t go to all that trouble unless they liked me, would they? Of course not.
So that’s why I always say whenever anybody asks me about myself and radio–I always say “When better radios are radioed, Gracie Allen will radio them.”