by Dave McMahon

A Magazine Ad | Who Was William Campbell? | Our New Stove

Alliance has a rich history of products that were manufactured and sold throughout the world. Anyone with a basic knowledge of Alliance could name off some of the major players from Alliance manufacturing history. Every now and then, some very interesting but obscure Alliance-made products that were sold throughout the world will pop up.

William Campbell stove adThe Historical Society recently received one of those products and added it to our collection. In many ways, the story behind its creator and his marketing of it outshines the item itself.

A Magazine Ad

It all started for me a few years back when I happened to acquire a February 1928 Better Homes and Gardens magazine. In flipping through the pages, I came across an ad for a product I had never hear of. It was “Campbell’s Automatic Electric Fireless Cooker Range” manufactured by William Campbell Company of Alliance, Ohio. Beside the picture of this strange looking thing was the phrase “You Will Love It On Sight.” Along with part of the copy that said “the most wonderful electric range we have ever offered,” was the fact that they were sold “direct from factory to user.” So I start thinking where was this factory located and for just how many years did they offer these products?

At that time I had not started any research into this company. I also figured that odds were we would never even see one of these things. Then in September 2022, came an e-mail to the Historical Society from someone in Michigan who had one of these ranges and they wanted to donate it to us. Our President Karen Perone asked me if I knew anything about them, and I just happened to remember the ad from the old magazine.

Who Was William Campbell?

William Campbell Stove ad

The Alliance Review. (Alliance, Ohio), 1925-01-12 p. 2

So now I started digging into just who or what was the William Campbell Company. The best way to describe Mr. Campbell would be to refer to him as the Ron Popeil of his day. For those of you who remember Mr. Direct Marketing man Ron Popeil and all of his amazing Ronco products, you will get a picture of what I mean. Mr. Campbell sold various “fireless” cooking apparatuses during the 1910s and 1920s. He chose to cut out the middle man and sell his products directly to the consumer. With no television to pitch his products on, he advertised in all of the major national publications of the day. His copy was filled with all of the wonderful amazing things his fireless apparatuses could do. Time saving, money saving, healthy foods were realized from his light, space savings products. Even cookbooks with chef-created recipes were available for his products.

An advertising letter from 1926 to a customer pitched the wonders of these ranges. If the customer acted before April 15, they could purchase one of these amazing ranges at a “bargain price” of just $74.85 from the regular price of $90. In today’s dollars, that is between $1,197 and $1,440.

It appears that Mr. Campbell started his company in Detroit, Michigan. At some point he chose to move from the big city to re-establish himself in Alliance. As for the location of his factory, I have not nailed that down yet. However, from looking at the ads during his Alliance years, I came up with 5 different addresses all listed on Union Avenue.

Our New Stove

The range itself is a tiny little thing weighing about 78 lbs. It is small enough to fit in a box and be shipped to us via UPS. The wheels that are on it, and are visible in their ads, are about the size between a nickel and a quarter. The two little burners that attached to the top of the stove with little clips are the only major item missing from this range.

William Campbell Stove William Campbell StoveOne of the big advertised features for these ranges was that it could be plugged into any regular household 110 outlet. If you picture how many people were living in small apartments of say just a few rooms in the 1920s, possibly up flights of steps, such a small light little cooking device would have been perfect for many. Question is, who living under those circumstances could have afforded the purchase price? Oh that’s right, the company offered easy payments of just $10 dollars a month. Just like the infomericals of today.

So now we know that at one time the self-described “The Original Fireless Cooker Man” lived and marketed his products to the world from Alliance, Ohio.=”left”