Soapy History!

Sometimes it’s fun to take a walk down memory lane. Why are ‘soap operas’ called so? Most people know it is because, in their radio beginning, they were sponsored by soap manufacturers.

Programs like: “Oxydol’s own Ma Perkins”, “The Romance of Helen Trent”, “One Man’s Family”, “Just Plain, Bill”, “Our Gal, Sunday”, “Lorenzo Jones”, “Stella Dallas”, and many more on the air during radio’s heyday in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s.

Many popular soap names cannot be found today, like, Oxydol, Duz, Ivory Snow, Lux, Swan, and a few more. “After working as a voice-over artist and actress, Irna Phillips was approached by executives at WGN (Chicago) to write a 15-minute daily show about a family geared toward a female audience. She crafted a story centered on an Irish-American widow and her unmarried daughter. “Painted Dreams,” arguably the first radio soap opera, premiered in October 1930. The term “soap opera” was later coined by the press with “soap” referring to the show’s primary sponsors — usually laundry detergent or facial soap.”

Proctor and Gamble (Oxydol and other brand names) in 1933 latched onto the daytime “soap” dramas and actually produced many programs.

What is odd about all of this, is I remember the radio tuned to soap and cereal sponsored programs…that’s how old I am, Sweetheart!