Museum Monday: King Biscuit Flour Advertising Display at the Delta Cultural Center

King Biscuit Flour and Sonny Boy Cornmeal Advertising Display
Custom Advertising Device c. 1950 wood, cotton, metal — Photo courtesy of Delta Cultural Center

This image shows a King Biscuit Flour and Sonny Boy Cornmeal advertising display container with four product sacks attached inside. Sonny Boy Williamson II (1912-1965) and his band carried and mounted these at different venues they played to encourage these products’ sales.

Sonny Boy Williamson II and his accompanying band initially performed Mississippi Delta Blues in 1941 on the “King Biscuit Time” broadcast each weekday at 12:15 p.m. on the KFFA radio station in Helena. The eponymous King Biscuit Flour was sold by local firm Interstate Grocery who sponsored this program. The station selected the 12:15 to 12:45 p.m. time slot to coincide with cotton laborers’ lunch break. 

Launched in 1941, the show’s continuum rendered it the first time African American musicians regularly appeared live on a radio station. Williamson proved so popular that in 1947, Interstate Grocery commissioned a cornmeal brand named after him that bore his trademark image, imprinted on two of the sacks.  In addition to the radio slot, Interstate Grocery also employed Williamson and his colleagues to play often at nearby storefronts in Arkansas and Mississippi to market these endorsed foodstuffs.

This object can be seen in this video reel of Sonny Boy Williamson and his King Biscuit boys performing in 1952.


Delta Cultural Center
Photo courtesy: Delta Cultural Center

The Delta Cultural Center opened in 1990 with a single property, The Depot, to serve as a museum. Today the Delta Cultural Center is made up of a complex of historic buildings, new structures and landscaped parks. Each site allows the center to expand its mission and provide interpretive and educational experiences. The center’s mission is to research, document, collect, interpret and present the heritage of the people of the Arkansas Delta. Admission is free and the center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Drew Ulrich
Drew Ulrich

Drew Ulrich has been the curator of the Delta Cultural Center, a museum of the Arkansas Division of Heritage, since March 2017. His paramount aim in his profession is to evoke among the public an appreciation of history through using cultural resources to generate tactile and useful experiences for them. The museum interprets the heritage of the 26 county Delta region, which includes Craighead County, through exhibitions, educational programs, annual events and tours. Ulrich has worked in the museum field since 2012 at institutions in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and Texas. He is a professional public historian of American history personally specializing in nation building between 1812 and 1919. He holds a master’s degree (2011) in history from Sonoma State University with an emphasis on the Civil War and Reconstruction period and a second master’s in museum studies (2014) from the Cooperstown graduate program.