Stories from the Past and Present: the Hamm's Bear

As the holidays wind down and we settle back into our daily routines some of us may turn our attention to the football playoffs. While the Vikings are sadly not playing in the post season, it’s hard not to look forward to the Super Bowl and the many iconic traditions we find; including the commercials. Some family members watch for the game and some watch for the commercials. But how did the Budweiser Clydesdales and Campbell’s Chunky Soup become official sponsors of the National Football League? Well, it all started with a little bear from Minnesota:

The Hamm’s Bear: Pioneer of Sponsorship

At the dawn of the 1950’s, the Theodore Hamm’s Brewing Company, founded in 1865, was quickly becoming a household name. To properly promote the thriving brand, company president William Figge hired the Campell Mithun Advertising Agency based in Minneapolis, Minnesota to create an advertising campaign like non-other. During one of their lunch meetings, a sketch was drawn on a napkin of a bear. Campell Mithun account manager Cleo Hoval loved the idea of a bear being the brand’s spokesperson and the concept was accepted. Several variations of a bear were developed by the in-house artists, but it was the version drawn by Hoval’s friend, Ray Toffelson, that was finally chosen to be the official character design.

The Hamm’s Bear was first introduced to the public in 1953 and was an instant hit as well as a pioneer in advertising. He was the first animated spokesperson used for a beer brand and as the company continued to grow, became one of the most recognizable and best loved figures in advertising. The founder of Campell Mithun stated:

“We believe the legend of the Hamm’s bear, like that of Paul Bunyan, will grow greater and greater as time goes on.”

The Hamm’s beer brand continued to thrive and create new advertising opportunities. Hamm’s along with the Hamm’s Bear was one of the first companies to create official sponsorship advertising for college and professional sports. With breweries in California, Texas, Maryland, and Minnesota, the Hamm’s Bear rooted for teams like the Vikings, the Twins and Chicago White Socks, the San Francisco 49ers, and Dallas Cowboys. The campaigns had proved to be so successful that in 1964 Hamm’s claimed to be the largest sponsor of college and professional sports.

The Hamm’s Bear has become an official Minnesota icon. So much so that in the year 2000, the St. Paul Pioneer Press listed him as of the “150 Most Influential Minnesotans of the Past 150 Years.”

So, it seems that we can thank pioneers like the Hamm’s Bear for all of the Super Bowl commercials. But for now, come in and check out some of the “new” vintage Hamm’s memorabilia at Past and Present Home Gallery. Our selection includes glassware, signs, and various new-old stock pieces. Not that into Hamm’s? Check out the Man Cave for other brand memorabilia and advertising items. Can’t wait to see you at Past and Present Home Gallery, the antique store with character!

Top 10 Gift Ideas for Father's Day

At Past and Present Home Gallery we hear it all the time:

“What do I get my Dad?”

So if you’re shopping for Father’s Day, his birthday, or any other special occasion, here are our top ten recommendations for telling Dad how much you love and appreciate him.

#10: Fishing Lures
We have an extensive collection of fishing lures that have come from all over the world. These small pieces of art vary from antique to rare to vintage one-of-a-kind. Shop all three levels to find our full selection and pick out the perfect pieces for Dad.

#9: Cast Iron Banks
These beautiful pieces of nostalgia are great additions to Dad’s collection.  Our store features original and vintage reproductions depicting a variety of subjects as well as classic mechanisms and the more intricate devises.

#8: Beer and Bar
Put the finishing touch on Dad’s Man Cave with memorabilia fixtures from his favorite brews like Grain Belt, Miller High Life, Schmidt, and Hamm's. Our selection includes everything from steins and pitchers to beer taps and pool lights.

#7: Les Kouba Art Print
Send Dad home with an iconic piece of Minnesota art in a print from artist Les Kouba. Kouba’s art depicts the breathtaking wild life of our state as well as nostalgic scenes from hunting and fishing trips. Shop our collection and find prints of all sizes from Kouba as well as other well-known artists.

#6: Animal Mount
Whether Dad loves hunting or fishing, an animal mount hanging on his wall allows him to enjoy all of those happy memories while the season is closed. Choose from a variety of mounts including buck, fish, pheasants, and caribou. If there’s not enough room for a full sized mount, try an antler or horn set instead. These smaller pieces make a beautiful statement while leaving room on the wall for Dad’s other favorite memories.

#5: Antique and Vintage Toys
Speak to Dad’s inner child with vintage and antique toys. Past and Present Home Gallery has a large selection of car models, pressed tin, antique cast-iron, and more from the best toy makers from yesteryear like Tonka, Tootsie, Arcade and many others. Also, check out our brand new selection of Roy Rogers memorabilia.



#4: Man Cave Stuff
Shop our 700 square foot Man Cave for the perfect piece for Dad’s space. Our collection features a wide variety of new and vintage signs, neon, rusty gold, and unique collectibles.


#3: Cast Aluminum Statues
You will find a unique selection of cast aluminum animals from eagles and bears to buck and buffalo. These fantastic statues are finished for indoor and outdoor use which makes them the ideal statement piece down by the dock, in the flower bed, or inside by the hearth.


#2: Sports Collectibles
Whether Dad is into playing sports or being his team’s number one fan, Past and Present Home Gallery has an extensive selection of unique memorabilia pieces he doesn’t have yet. Our collection includes items from all of our Minnesota sports teams and others. Make Dad’s day with a one-of-a-kind fan piece for his Man Cave.


#1: Display Case
Does Dad have an award-winning collection that’s bursting at the seams? Find him a new display cabinet that showcases his beloved collectibles with pride. Our store features a large selection of antique and vintage cabinets in all shapes and sizes that are sure to fit Dad’s tastes and your budget.

Still can’t find the perfect gift for Father’s Day? No problem. Pick up one of our hand-made greeting cards with our gift certificate tucked inside. That way he’s sure to find the perfect gift at Past and Present Home Gallery, the antique store with character!