Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Profitable Pork Selection

I like to tell folks that the greatest influence on my social life was probably the mid-day lineup of a local independent television station Channel 50 (it's now our local CW affiliate.) What was in that lineup? Mr. Ed, The Adventures of Superman, and Bill Kennedy's At the Movies.

From Mr. Ed came the love of horses, and from Superman came the comic book fixation. Those two obsessions should be obvious to any long time readers here. But the movies?

Bill Kennedy was practically an institution around here – a B-movie actor and announcer who hosted his own show in the Detroit market for decades. He made me and many of my friends and family into diehard movie buffs. I even worked at a movie theatre for three years. (My family thought the free movies were the best job benefit ever.) In case you haven't noticed, an awful lot of my blog post titles have been puns or plays on the titles of movies.

I'm not real particular about the kinds of movies I see: I have silents, shorts, educational and industrial films in my video collection. One movie that I've been dying to see still eludes me, though: it's called Profitable Pork Selection.

Sound familiar? It's the movie starring Jasper, the Market Hog!


It was produced Department of Animal Sciences at Purdue University, in conjunction with the American Cyanamid Company, who purchased Jasper and donated him to Purdue after he was named “Grand Champion Barrow” of the 1969 International Livestock Exhibition in Chicago.

Purdue either doesn't have a copy of in their archives, or has misplaced it. (This is not an uncommon occurrence with educational and industrial films, alas.) I've searched high and low for a copy of this film on various online archives devoted to these kinds of films, also with no results. It's possible that American Cyanamid may have a copy lying around somewhere, but I haven't had the time – or the nerve – to pursue any leads there so far. (Ironically, their headquarters are also now in Wayne, New Jersey!)

I have been able to find the person responsible for engineering Jasper's fame, however: her name was Helen M. Maddock. Here's a brief biography of Ms. Maddock, culled from the Iowa State University web site, where there is a scholarship in Animal Science named after her:

American Cyanamid Company hired Helen in 1953, and she worked for that company until her retirement in 1986. [...] Her tasks revolved around the use of antibiotics with livestock, particularly hogs, as she fulfilled the various roles of technical writer, advertising manager, product manager, and program manager. While with Cyanamid, Helen contributed to the defense of antibiotic use at Congressional and FDA hearings. She also was responsible for using Jasper, the 1969 International Grand Champion barrow, to promote the ideal market hog via slides, a movie, a booklet, and a model. (This advertising effort was so successful that not only do her nieces and nephews all recognize Jasper when they see his sturdy plastic model, so do her grandnieces and grandnephews!) Helen's professional activities were admired by her peers throughout her thirty-eight years in the American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) and culminated with her selection as an Honorary Fellow of the ASAS in 1987.

Neat, eh?

By the way, the Jasper in the photograph above is another little treasure from my collection: he was signed by Jasper's breeder Jack Rodibaugh, and purchased from Jack's sister, Mary Margaret Fox. How's that for an impeccable pedigree?

7 comments:

Christine said...

Well how cool is that? I didn't know Jasper was made after a real hog. Learn something new every day.

QuzqosMa said...

I LOVED watching Bill Kennedy's show! Once in 6th grade I had permission to stay home because he was showing "The Story of Louis Pasteur" and I was to give a report on it the next day. I never did, ha ha. Wow, memory lane, here I come!

zidara said...

I just discovered your blog today through a link from Model Horse Blab. I am new to the hobby, though I have collected H-R for over fifty years, and have learned a lot from Blab in the last month. But your blog! It is full of amazing information, more than I can take in at one sitting, though I did read every post and comment today. Thank you for your scholarship and diligence!

beforetheRfell said...

Speaking of Mr. Ed... I remember at some point seeing mention of a Mr. Ed model on a Breyer inventory report back when we could get them. I believe it was listed as #1135. The quantity on hand read "0", so it may have been a model that fell through due to rights issues. This was during the Hollywood Horses series time, so it made sense, but it hasn't appeared since then. There was a similar situation around that time with "Little Black" whose product number was somewhere close to Mr. Ed's (#1132?). The Little Black even showed up on a preliminary price list one year. I'm sure I have it somewhere.

Jonathon Roller said...

I am Jack Rodibaugh's and Mary Margeret Fox's great nephew. Uncle Jack and Aunt Marg to me and my family. Found this to be an interesting read about my favorite piece of my breyer collection. It inspired me to ask Uncle Jack to sign my Jasper at this year's Rodibaugh family Christmas :)

Jonathon Roller said...

P.s. when did you get your Jasper? I remeber Aunt Marg having a huge collection of them that she always let me look at in their barn/garage when I was very young. It's possible I saw that very one at somepoint in my childhood!

mwikali said...

Have you found the movie? I've got a Jasper too (Helen is my great-aunt!)