Almost from the creation of the term “4-H” — and before the use of the 4-H emblem — enterprising young girls and boys were using the term “4-H Brand” as a “stamp of quality” on their home-grown farm products resulting from 4-H projects, kind of like the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.”
Today the 4-H emblem is a federally protected mark that can’t be used on products without approval. The 4-H emblem was patented in 1924, and a 1939 law protects the use of both the 4-H name and the emblem.
Early 4-H’ers were very keen on management and marketing of their projects. Accurate record-keeping and accountability was stressed by the leaders and county extension agents. Creative marketing was often the key to success. Many members devised ideas on how to market their products that even their parents or leaders had not thought about.
Whether it was vegetables from the 4-H garden, fruit from the orchard, eggs from the hen house, dairy products from the barn or honey from the 4-H bee hive, creative marketing was important to the young boys and girls.
A 1914 directive out of USDA’s Washington headquarters office states: “In connection with the boys’ and girls’ club work the 4-H brand canning labels, seed corn labels and seed potato labels are of especial importance in encouraging the club members to standardize their products. State, district and county men who are interested in the 4-H brand labels and wish samples of them can secure the same by writing the office of farm management, says O. H. Benson, government specialist, in charge of club work.”
A new section,4-H Brand Products from the Farm, has just been added to the national 4-H history preservation website on 4-H brand products. To view the section to go: