So, there’s this smiling gal in a two-piece accepting an award from a smiling (fully bundled-up) man, with the temperature sign behind them declaring a bracing -4 degrees. Huh.
Further research into this little scene yields some intriguing bits. We discover that she has just won a beauty contest and will reign as Miss Cold Potato for February, 1966. She was reportedly the only contestant (brave enough?) to enter the contest, which clearly required swimwear “competition” in the great frozen outdoors. Her prize, mercifully: a “warming Florida vacation.” No word as to whether she had to fulfill her reign before heading south.
Who is this smiling man and whom does he represent? Turns out Walter Purcell is the lucky fellow chosen to award his organization’s prize to a scantily clad woman. Mr. Purcell worked for the Frozen Potato Products Institute of Chicago, which included 20 of the country’s potato processors. Apparently, the Miss Cold Potato title had been created by the Institute to add visibility and glamour to potato products. The Miss Cold Potato of 1963 had toured the country talking to the press about how much she enjoyed eating potatoes and how they are not at all fattening. And, yes, there still is a Frozen Potato Products Institute. I don’t believe they hold beauty contests these days.
So who is Miss Cold Potato 1966? Turns out her name is Delilah Henry, a Nebraska-born model, better known to Playboy fans as Teddi Smith. Teddi (37-22-35) was Playboy magazine’s Playmate of the Month in July 1960 and appeared on the cover of Playboy five times during the early to mid-1960s. After becoming a Playmate, she was a Bunny at the Chicago Playboy Club. She reveals more about working for -and living with- Hugh Hefner in this book excerpt.
Somehow the businessmen of the Frozen Potato Products Institute and Delilah/Teddi connected (were the potato men guests at the Playboy mansion?) – and the rest is history!
The spot for this photo op is across the river from roughly where the Hyatt Regency stands today; the Cutty Sark billboard used to broadcast the temperature and its product on that site.
Featured photo courtesy of John Chuckman, Chicago Nostalgia