In 1918 when this was posted in the Bridgeport Telegram (Connecticut) radio was yet to become popular. This was in essence an infomercial, a pretty big deal in it’s day. A visit to your town from the 20 Mule Borax Team with free entertainment, along with free samples of their laundry detergent, who could pass this up?
The Pacific Coast Borax Company adopted the the 20 mule team as it’s logo back in 1890 and the mule team was featured on the top of every box of soap flakes . Mules were used to extract the chemical borax from the mines of Death Valley between 1883 to 1889, this was before the train came to the west. Mules were used because they are less stubborn than donkeys and ate less than horses. Teams were often hitched in 80 foot chains hauling over 35 tons across 165 miles of the Mohave Dessert on less than ideal roads.
In 1916 the company sent the 20 mule team on a cross country trip promoting the brand. They started in California to Nevada. From there they were loaded on trains to Washington D.C. The team was even in the 1917 inaugural parade for Woodrow Wilson. Driving the team were colorfully name characters like Borax Bill or as in this advertisement Tarantula Pete usually reminiscing the ole west. You can still purchase their Borax 20 Mule Team to this very day!