In the 1930s, the slogan was “a chicken in every pot.”
Fast forward to the 1990s, the refrain was “it’s the economy, stupid.”
The words might have changed, but the concept remains the same.
Presidential candidates can talk all they want about foreign affairs, trade barriers and a myriad of other issues, but it usually comes down to the average voter’s pocketbook. And if the country is in a time of economic recession or depression, the economic talk gains even more political weight.
This recent election was no exception.
Back in 1900, candidates didn’t talk about chickens or anything else in the pot, but they did talk a lot about dinner buckets. The race pitted Democrat William Jennings Bryan in his second attempt at the White House against President William McKinley in his reelection bid. McKinley touted his policies as ones that would fill the nation’s dinner buckets.
Back in those days, workers took metal lunch (or dinner) pails to work for meals. These pails, with a cup attached to the top, were quite the rage. They would later morph into metal and later plastic lunch boxes that kids in the 1950s and 1960s would haul to school each day.
For collectors, the dinner bucket political craze of the 1900 election would turn into a campaign button issue. Various versions of buttons emerged with dinner buckets on them. Glass and metal dinner buckets were produced with McKinley slogans on them.
McKinley would win his reelection bid.
After all, in that election, it was the dinner bucket, stupid.