Spratt’s Dog Cakes, 1895

I enjoy the bold use of space and sense of minimalism in this advert for Spratt’s “Meat Fibrine” Dog Cakes. Founder James Spratt invented the idea of dog biscuits, inspired by seeing dogs on Liverpool docks scoffing down hardtack – the sailors weevil-busting biscuit. (Well, that’s if the “Dicky Sams” weren’t using the hardtack to make scouse.)

The Lancashire Daily Post, 1895

The Lancashire Daily Post, 1895

The name lives on in the Spratt’s Complex of Tower Hamlets, London, which was one of the first warehouse conversions in the 1980s. It used to be the old Victorian dog food factory, which at one point was the biggest in the world. They also had a dog show department, which must have had something to do with the fact that James Spratt’s assistant, a 14 year old Charles Cruft, later founded Crufts Dog Show.

Spratt's Complex

Spratt’s Complex

Spratt’s produced over a billion dog biscuits for the army dogs of the First World War, and food for the dogs of the polar expeditions too. Here’s Ernest Shackleton’s snow dogs promoting Spratt’s dog cakes with a bit of frolicking in front of their posters:


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