Manly Boys and Enterprising Dreamers: Business Ideology and the Construction of the Boy Consumer, 1910–1930

Early twentieth-century advertising discourses on the archetypal boy consumer promoted a masculinized ideal of consumption that broke decisively from the stereotype of the emotion-driven female shopper. Boys were lauded as rational, informed buyers who prized technological innovation and influenced parents and peers. While touting boys' ample consumer appetites, promoters of the boy consumer also depicted boys' interest in advertised goods as worthy of entrepreneurial-minded self-improvers. The ideal of the boy consumer thus harmonized the potentially hedonistic ethos of consumerism with older ideals of productivity and industriousness. New ideologies of manhood that valorized enthusiasm, loyalty, and salesmanship confirmed the boy consumer's manly vitality.