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Hollywood Goes to the Dogs

Movie stars have special diets, so why shouldn’t dogs? Balto’s latest seven-day menu was introduced in Hollywood with a week of free lunches in April 1934.

Dogs on Hollywood Boulevard
Balto dog food event at 7032 Hollywood Boulevard (USC)

Locals brought their four-legged friends to a pop-up shop at 7032 Hollywood Boulevard—owned by 20th Century Fox boss Joseph Schenck—for a proper diet of fresh fish, cooked vegetables, rice, powdered sage, bran, crumbled shredded wheat, and charcoal ovals.

Next door at 7030 Hollywood was the shop of H. M. Robertson, dog breeder and trainer to the stars.

Dogs on Hollywood Boulevard
Proud owners show off their pups (USC)

As you can see from this photo, a popular breed at the time was the Fox Terrier, made famous by wire-haired Asta in The Thin Man starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. Portraits of Fox Terriers even adorned Robertson’s walls.

Several of the Top 10 dogs of the 1930s are represented here: Boston Terrier (#1), Scottish Terrier (#4), Pekingese (#6), and English Springer Spaniel (#8). Greyhounds were also associated with the decade’s Art Deco style trend.

The Thin Man
Asta and William Powell in The Thin Man (1934)

Balto, named after the famous Alaskan sled dog who transported live-saving serum during a 1925 diphtheria outbreak, ranked as the leading seller of quality dog and cat food in Southern California… 3 out of 4 pet hospitals and breeders recommended it!

Made from fresh fish caught off the California coast, only three hours elapsed from the time the fish arrived at the Wilmington plant before it was processed under tremendous pressure and canned.

Advertisements claimed that people who didn’t feed their dogs Balto were unknowingly poisoning them, bringing on suffering and even death.

The scare tactic worked: In June 1934, Coast Fishing Company announced sales of Balto dog and cat food had increased 76.2% over the previous year.


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