The Morton Salt Umbrella Girl
In 1848, a new salt merchant company called Richmond & Company, was formed in Chicago, Illinois. Initially sales agents for Onondaga Salt, the company grew and became a manufacturer. In 1899, Joy Morton acquired a major interest in the business, and the company name was changed to Joy Morton & Company. The business was incorporated as the Morton Salt Company in 1910.
Morton offered table salt, as well as several bulk salt grades for industry and farming.
In 1911, magnesium carbonate, an anti-caking agent, was added to the table salt to prevent it from sticking together and getting clumpy. To celebrate the new formula, new advertising campaign was launched.
The Morton Salt Umbrella Girl was created in 1911, and she was designed to be the advertising icon for the company. The little girl was shown holding an umbrella as she walked in the rain, carrying beneath her arm a cylindrical Morton Salt container with an open, patented spout. The salt fell behind her as she walked, demonstrating that even when it was rainy, the salt still poured.
The original slogan was found to be too long:
Even in rainy weather, it flows freely.
So, it was shortened to:
When it rains, it pours.
The Umbrells Girl made her advertising debut in Good Housekeeping magazine, and, in 1914, she appeared on the Morton table salt container.
The little girl’s image has been updated over the decades. In the 1920s her dress was changed, as it was also in the 1930s. In the ’40s she was given pigtails and a yellow dress with matching socks. In the ’50s, her white umbrella was changed to a yellow one, and her wardrobe was again updated to keep up with the times.
In the 1960s, the Umbrella Girl received a final makeover. Her hair was shortened to a bob, and her high-waisted dress and matching shoes reflected the mod fashion of the times. Her classic look has carried her through the decades, and the little girl who first appeared on just table salt containers now graces the packaging of every product the Morton Salt Company manufactures.
Over the years, the Morton Salt Company has continuously expanded, creating new products to fill the needs of the times, from iodized salt for goiter prevention to rock salt and diet salt substitutes. The company has also expanded from Chicago to other plants and mines in the United States and Morton even has salt operations in the Bahamas and Quebec, Canada.
In 1999, the Morton Salt Company was acquired by Rohm and Haas, but the salt products are still sold under the Morton name. Despite corporate changes, the little girl with the umbrella marches on through the rain, demonstrating the anti-clump properties of Morton Salt.
The ageless Umbrella Girl (for whom a real model was never used) remains one of America’s best-known advertising icons.