Postum Partem

The Ivy League has been used to sell a lot of things, not just clothes.  Old School was kind enough to send me this:


First thing I did was go down the rabbit hole of “it’s” – thanks to the PTSD I have from a real proofreader and a number of well meaning readers. Turns out, this is right for the time. Now, not so much. But then I started asking myself, well, wait, if grammar and punctuation can change, then where’s the line? But I stopped that because it is summer, I am on an abbreviated schedule, and there is a little vacation head going on. The other thing I noticed was that this college boy is in a tie (Ivy) but is wearing cufflinks. I dunno if that is right for the time.


Postum is interesting stuff.  Or was, you don’t see it around anymore.  It is roasted wheat bran and molasses, and was used as a coffee alternative.  It may have died off because, to the best of my knowledge, wheat bran has never made anyone more alert and molasses is not known for its (see what I did there?) properties of acceleration.

There was some “unfortunate” advertising going on with Postum:


See kids? Not every guy in a suit and tie is nice.


And other ill-directed Ivy references:


What do you suppose the “this” is?


While I think the defining point about non-Ivy attendee wearing Ivy School logos, etc. was made already in the comments section (a while back, when one reader reminded us that the Ivy League itself licenses its on intellectual property), the Ivy League look can be borrowed and used as a marketing tool even without permission.


28 Comments on "Postum Partem"

  1. JB, I hope I’m not the cause of your PTSD, but if I am, switching to a caffeine-free chicory-based coffee alternative would help.

    There’s a book called “Caffeine Blues” that says, basically, that coffee is the Devil. Since then I have quit drinking coffee cold turkey and switched to tea.

  2. With a little distillation and ten years in the barrel, they might have had something there.

  3. They still make Postum — I had it as a kid once in a while so so had to check on that, along with Ovaltine. They were the sanctioned non-coffee beverages for children. No recollection of what it tastes like, however. Hardbopper’s got a great idea for an adult beverage version. Postum would do well to jump on that.

  4. Frederick J Johnson | August 17, 2022 at 3:26 pm |

    As a kid I used to drink it sometimes as my grandmother was very fond of it. Hard to describe the taste other than it was not coffee.

  5. We can all agree though that wearing a “Mr. Coffee Nerves” logo on one’s villain outfit is not Ivy.

  6. As a fifty year old man who cannot tolerate the taste of coffee , pustum sounds appealing!! I have had only 3 sips of coffee in my whole life. Ghastly stuff, but love the smell.

  7. Learn something knew every day! I’ve heard of Postum before but never bothered to look it up. Interesting history, for sure, thanks for sharing!

  8. JB,
    I hadn’t noticed the cufflinks or “it’s” instead of “its”. As a stickler for details, I should have. I think the hat, the hatband, the gloves, and the hardbound book are great, not to mention the bench. Gone are the days…

  9. I must admit that “Mr. Coffee Nerves” is my daily companion. I’ve given up alcohol (and other vices) several times for Lent, but when I tried to give up caffeine one year, I was a legitimate public menace for 40 days.

  10. MacMcConnell | August 18, 2022 at 11:59 am |

    I drink coffee all day and evening, always have. I drink it till I got to bed and has no effect on falling to sleep, but it does help revving me in the morning.

  11. Charlottesville | August 18, 2022 at 1:18 pm |

    My older brother went through a Postum phase when I was a kid. It is a pretty poor substitute for coffee, but I suppose one could acquire a taste for it.

    “The College Boy” at the top is likely non-Ivy because, as far as I know, The Strand was an English magazine. It was the original publisher of the Sherlock Holmes stories, among other things. Perhaps his outfit is more early 20th c. Oxbridge than Ivy, although the 2-button sleeve is certainly a feature that carried across the sea to take root in Ivy style.

    • John Burton | August 19, 2022 at 7:19 am |

      There’s this whole interesting discussion that goes on at the FB group about the origins of Ivy and pre heyday Ivy, etc. One such position goes that pre heyday Ivy started in England, and was only codified as Ivy here.

    • Greetings Charlottesville.
      The American edition of The Strand ceased publication in 1916; this ad appeared in 1909.
      I’m pretty certain that in 1909 the British never referred to university students as “college boys”. Perhaps one or more of the Brltish followers of this site could confirm this.

    • Speaking of Sherlock Holmes, here’s an ad for Postum that appeared in The Strand:

    • Charlottesville | August 19, 2022 at 10:37 am |

      Hi, John. I certainly agree that much of what we call Ivy (tweeds, button-down collars, glen plaid suits, Khaki cotton twill, repp stripe ties, madras plaids, etc.) began in Great Britain and its erstwhile empire.

      Thanks, Old School. I didn’t know about the US edition of the Strand. Sadly, it sounds like I am 106 years too late to subscribe. Of course, you are no-doubt right about the “college boy” moniker being strictly American. And thanks too for the Postum ads. I always enjoy good commercial illustration. It is vanishingly rare these days.

  12. “more early 20th Century Oxbridge than Ivy”

    Astute observation, C-Ville. Good catch.

    I’ve no doubt Ivy worked well– as means of selling other (non clothing) goods. Let’s recall that, once upon a time, this style was affiliated with vigor of all types — intellectual, physical, and spiritual (see the Muscular Christianity movement). JFK (“vigah!”) remains one of the primary icons: a strong, masculine, outgoing guy who played football and served honorably in the military. A gallant, unapologetically masculine bunch.

    Those days are long gone–mostly. There are pockets. But I can’t imagine a tweedy, witty, football-playing extravert gaining much traction in a world where chubby, orange-haired real estate and stiff, robotic technocrats ascend to the top of most heaps. It’s as though, around 1970, needs changed the rules.

  13. * nerds

    And they did change the rules. In large part by ascending to positions of power and rewriting means of access to power, including, most prominently, the SAT specifically and testing more generally. Farewell, gentleman amateurs.

  14. Looks like the proofreader took the day off.

  15. NaturalShoulder | August 18, 2022 at 9:45 pm |

    Nothing better than a strong espresso to start the morning out on the patio in the morning with the quiet and a good book. Postum sounds awful

  16. While looking to see if anyone still made Postum, I came upon this:

    Does JB have the ability to time travel and correct a century-old grammatical errors?

  17. I’ve actually had Postum before. It’s garbage!

Comments are closed.