A perfect ten! Nice job! Gold star!

I can think of at least a dozen ways to say that something works well or has met a standard of excellence. A phrase that was popular in the 1980s and seems to be on the rise again is “Good Housekeeping seal of approval.” According to the Google books ngramstatistics, the phrase first appeared in books about 1935. But wasn’t the seal older than that? Would Mrs. Jenkins, the housekeeper/cook in Blue Thread have heard it in 1912?

The short answer is yes. Good Housekeeping magazine started around 1885. The magazine later established a test kitchen and science laboratory of sorts and in 1909 started to give products its “Good Housekeeping Seal.” By the time Blue Thread starts in September, 1912, the magazine had established the Good Housekeeping Research Institute (GHRI) led by Harvey Wiley, the first commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Here’s what Good Housekeeping says about its seal:

Now based in an 18,500-square-foot lab facility at Hearst Tower, the chemists, engineers, nutritionists, and experts of GHRI use state-of-the-art technologies and consumer testing to evaluate products that appear in the editorial and advertising pages of Good Housekeeping. Once a product has met their rigorous standards, it is eligible to advertise and to earn the Good Housekeeping Seal.
Introduced in 1909, the Seal was one of the first “tested and approved” emblems in the U.S. and is now its foremost symbol of quality assurance and consumer protection. More than a stamp of approval, the Seal is the icon of the magazine’s Consumer Policy, which promises to refund or replace a product if it is found to be defective within two years of its purchase. Consumers can purchase a Seal- holding product with confidence, knowing that Good Housekeeping stands behind it with its own independent warranty.”

There you have it, folks.

But wait, there’s more. Mrs. Jenkins might also have seen this cook book published in conjunction with Good Housekeeping. Next week I’ll offer a recipe or two from the book for your personal “seal of approval.”


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