The airy times of post-World War One America began loosing its shimmer in 1929. That October the raucous roar of jazz bands was muted to a whisper while the delight of gyrating flappers and nose tickling Champagne became bittersweet memories. It was the start of an eleven year economic downturn know as the Great Depression. Year after year, this beast of a financial nightmare clawed through the decade — at its peak unemployment swelled to twenty-five percent and adding to the misery, half of the nations banks failed, leaving their depositors financially and emotionally shattered.
Many people couldn’t, or didn’t, want to wait as the government scrambled to resuscitate the economy. Not willing to survive on handouts (“Brother, Can You Spare a Dime”) they did what needed to be done to earn money (“Pennies From Heaven”). Throughout this time, Modern Mechanix and Invention magazine provided suggestions on how to scrape together a few dollars. In a popular column, readers submitted money-making tips or as the magazine called them “Stunts”. Each month this collected arsenal provided ideas for others to hopefully duplicate the success described. This column is from the October 1933 issue. As you can see, not all the ideas were original, such as selling homemade cakes and pies. But some, like spending an afternoon cleaning tombstones to earn a couple of bucks, was imaginative.
Interestingly, it looks like the fine folks at Long-Akins Company thought the idea of home-cooked potato chips was a good one. In the December 1934 issue of the magazine, a year after the original idea was published, this Ohio based company was tempting eager entrepreneurs with the potential riches from their own home-based Potato Chip Factory.