Gold Dust Twins
The Gold Dust Twins, the trademark for Fairbank's Gold Dust washing powder products, appeared in printed media as early as 1892. "Goldie" and "Dusty", the original Gold Dust Twins, were often shown doing household chores together. In general use since the early 1900s, the term has had popular use as a nickname on several occasions. The sobriquet, "Gold Dust Twins," is often used to describe two talented individuals working closely together for a common goal, especially in sports.
Gold Dust washing powder was an all-purpose cleaning agent first introduced in the late 1880s by the Nathaniel Kellogg Fairbank Soap Company based in New York City. Gold Dust was distributed in America by the Lever Brothers Company of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Its first regional success was in the midwestern United States. Gold Dust Washing Powders had been marketed nationally since the mid-1890s, becoming the top-selling national brand of washing powder by 1903. Gold Dust products were eventually licensed and marketed internationally by Lever Brothers in Canada and Great Britain. The product lines' bright orange labels prominently featured the Gold Dust Twins.
The original "Gold Dust Twins"
The Gold Dust Twins, 'Goldie' and 'Dustie', were the 'faces' of the Fairbank's Gold Dust washing powder product lines. The original (circa 1892) version of the twins was a drawing of two young black children cheerfully cleaning up together in a washtub. On the original containers, they are simply pictured standing side-by-side over the "Gold Dust Washing Powder" wording and behind a mound of gold coins, while standing underneath an arch emblazoned with the name "Fairbank's."
By the 1903 launch of a national advertising campaign, renderings of the twins had been transformed into a cartoonish pair of caricature, bald, black children of unspecified gender shown wearing tutus that sported the words "Gold" and "Dust" on them. On product containers and in advertisements, they were often comically depicted, along with a huge stack of dishes in a washtub, with one twin cleaning, the other drying. The twins became icons following a 1903 national marketing campaign, which featured the slogan "Let the Twins Do Your Work." They became an easily recognizable trademark found in many, if not most, U.S. homes during the first half of the twentieth century.
The Gold Dust Twins were drawn by E.W. Kemble, then a staff artist for the Chicago Daily Graphic. They were featured in print, billboard, specialty advertising, and radio advertisements for over sixty-five years. The Gold Dust Twins was the name of a popular radio program which was broadcast nationally in the US in the 1920s. Starring Harvey Hindemeyer as "Goldie", and Earle Tuckerman as "Dusty," the show was sponsored by Lever Brothers and Gold Dust washing powder. An early example of product tie-ins, Gold Dust's advertising jingle became the show's theme song, sung by Hindemeyer and Tuckerman.
The products (along with Goldie and Dustie) were phased out by the mid-1950s, as national sensibilities regarding race and racial stereotypes embodied in the Twins characters began to change.
Historically, the "Gold Dust Twins" moniker has most often been used to describe two individuals working closely together for a common goal, including:
- Tim Moore (later famous for his role of George "Kingfish" Stevens in the television version of Amos 'n' Andy), along with his stage-partners, Romeo Washburn and Cora Miskel, performed as part of the trio, "Cora and Her Gold Dust Twins," on the vaudeville circuit in the midwestern and the northeastern United States following the national popularization of the icons (early 1900s).
- In government / politics
- Benjamin V. Cohen and Thomas Corcoran, government (1930s).
- Hugo Black and Bibb Graves, Alabama "gold passport" carrying Klansmen.
- In sports
- Harold "Jug" McSpaden and Byron Nelson, golf (1930s and 1940s).
- Gus Mortson and Jim Thomson, Canadian hockey (1940s and early 1950s).
- Royal Copeland and Joe Krol, Canadian football (1940s and early 1950s).
- Lew Hoad and Ken Rosewall, tennis (1950s).
- Donny Anderson and Jim Grabowski, NFL football with the Green Bay Packers (1960s).
- Fred Lynn and Jim Rice, Boston Red Sox baseball (1970s).
- Herman Sary and Leo Huck, two Catholic Carmelite brothers (circa 1898).
- Douglas Albert Munro and Raymond Evans, sailors of the U.S. Coast Guard awarded medals in WWII
In popular culture
- "The Gold Dust Twins", 1929 radio series
- Rafferty and the Gold Dust Twins, a 1975 comedy road movie; the Gold Dust Twins of the title being a pair of female hitchhikers
- The Twins appear in the 2004 release, C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, an alternate reality British documentary about American life after the Confederates had won the American Civil War. A recreation of a Gold Dust Twins commercial, featuring purposely outrageous racial stereotypes, is shown as part of the "mockumentary."
- In "Washwoman's Blues" recorded August 8, 1928 and released as Columbia 146893, Bessie Smith has the line "Lord, I do more work than forty livin' Gold Dust Twins".
A set of ham radio equipment made by the Collins Radio Company in the 1950s that was nicknamed the "Gold Dust Twins" comprising the 75A-4 receiver and KWS-1 transmitter, which together at the time cost over $2500 (equivalent to over $23,000 in 2019 dollars) when new. Collins products were considered 'top of the line'. Ham radio enthusiasts nicknamed the pair the Gold Dust Twins, as they had not been affordable to most amateur radio enthusiasts when first introduced.
- Schock, Barbara (2020-11-27). "Gold Dust Twins". Sandburg's Hometown. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
- Thomas, Velma Maia (2020-11-27). "Your Advertisement Troubles Me : Atlanta's Goldust Twins". ATLS: Atlanta Studies. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
- "This Little Piggie Went to Market". Chicago Historical Journal. November 2020. Archived from the original on May 2008.
- Dailey, Jane Elizabeth; Gilmore, Glenda Elizabeth; Simon, Bryant (2000). Jumpin' Jim Crow: Southern Politics from Civil War to Civil Rights. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p. 168. ISBN 9780691001937.
- Dotz, Warren; Morton, Jim (1996). What a Character! 20th Century American Advertising Icons. Chronicle Books. p. 11. ISBN 0-8118-0936-6.
- Independent Race Talkies. "Yiddish Talkies, Hollywood Goes Ethnic, Drag Comedy". Outside the Mainstream.
- "Excerpts from Broadcast History". Tripod. 2020-11-27. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
- "Tim Moore: The Gold Dust Twins".
- The Morning Star; Wilimington, North Carolina; August 17, 1983, page 3B; Cohen obituary
- Hugo Black and the Judicial Revolution; by Gerald T. Dunne
- "Tales from the Bunker" Archived 2014-01-13 at the Wayback Machine Because of their consistent one-two finishes [during the war years], Nelson and McSpaden were together referred to as the "Gold Dust Twins".
- "Thomson & Mortson". Legends of Hockey. August 2017. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
- "Royal Copeland was part of the Argos' Gold Dust Twins : obituary". The Record.com.
- The Bryan Times; Saturday, September 2, 1972; Pg 7; Col. 1; Grabowski retirement article
- "Lynn Thrilled for Rice, His 'Gold Dust Twin' Hall of Famer". NESN.com. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
- Dressel, Rev. Anthony C (October 1940). "Brother Herman Emil Sary, O.Carm. 1864-1911" (PDF). The Sword.
- "The Gold Dust Twins" (PDF). U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office.
- "Collins 75A-4 KWS-1 Receiver". Amateur Radio Group. Retrieved 2020-11-27.
- Gold Dust Washing Powder advertisement; Wednesday, November 12, 1902; Arkansas City Daily Traveler; Arkansas City, Kansas; retrieved November 2020; p. 2
- A Gold Dust printed advertisement example(s)
- Behind the Mike Radio Show; October 27, 1940; episode: Stoogedum : Today featuring Goldy and Dusty : the Gold Dust Twins (1924); only known extant recording of the Gold Dust Twins, here performing a recreation of one of their previously broadcast shows.