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Zip n' Tang

In September of 1929 Mr. Zip and Mr. Tang (Harley Howell and Kenneth Clark) presented a faculty sub-committee with an idea for a new campus publication. The two felt a need had arisen for humor publication; this small magazine, to be called Zip 'N' Tang for it's lightness of tone and satire, was granted tentative permission for publication. The first two issues would be recognized as campus publications and after reading these two, the faculty would come together for another vote.

Zip 'N' Tang was off to a well organized start, with Zip (Howell) in charge of editing and Tang (Clark) tending to advertising and sales. The first issue, The New Brother, was geared specifically to new freshmen on campus, filled with jokes about freshmen and introductions to college life. The cover depicted a young man over dressed in a nice suit and hat, walking down the sidewalk with a suitcase in each hand. He was, however, missing his trousers. Three upperclassmen were in the background, waving them in the wind.

This first Zip 'N' Tang was so successful, according to the second issue, there had been difficulty in securing enough copies for everyone. This second issue, the homecoming issue, was also the program for the Coe/Cornell game. In order to increase distribution, a contest was held among the sororities as to who could sell the most copies, with 10 dollars for first prize, $7.50 for second and 5 dollars for third. The back of the issue explained the rules:

"Contest begins at chapel time Friday morning and continues until four Sunday afternoon. The big events will be at the chapel Friday morning, the pep meeting Friday evening, the big game Saturday afternoon and at your own discretion between times. Don't bite any necks."

Although the Zip 'N' Tang established itself as a popular student publication in just two issues, the faculty decided due to funding it would not be possible to allow a third campus publication (in edition to the Acorn and the Cosmos). The editorial staff then moved their office from Williston hall to 1560 3rd Ave, Zip's current address. As was explained in the next issue (doubly titled The Outlaw/ Faculty Exposé) "contrary to popular opinion, Zip 'N' Tang was never ordered to cease publication... The action of the executive committee of the college was taken only after extensive consideration and due deliberation had been given to the matter." Cedar Rapids merchants were being "bled dry" being asked to advertise in so many publications, and it was felt that with one more publication, businesses would pull out and cease to advertise. Zip and Tang disagreed, for if "merchants of Cedar Rapids DO consider college advertising as an expenditure for which they receive nothing in return, the editors of Zip'N' Tang wish to express their since appreciation of the 'gifts' that have been given to us in our present capacity." Having no trouble gaining advertising, the Zip 'N' Tang was thereby able to finance publication, despite not being an official campus publication.

No longer needing faculty approval, Zip 'N' Tang's content shifted a bit in the following issues, including short jokes about persons of different religions and cultural backgrounds (mostly the Jewish and Scottish), and a racy piece about a young woman losing a game of strip poker to a group of gentlemen.

The first was the Freshman Eye Opener number, followed by the Homecoming, Mid-Winter, Christmas and Razz issues. This latter kept things rather hot for the Editor and contributors, but after a few months, most of the hatred of the student body had died down, and it was possible to bring out the last issue.

The following year, however, with a new Zip and a new Tang, the magazine was published just six times throughout the year. The 1932 Acorn listed the issues: "The first was the Freshman Eye Opener number, followed by the Homecoming, Mid-Winter, Christmas and Razz issues. This latter kept things rather hot for the Editor and contributors, but after a few months, most of the hatred of the student body had died down, and it was possible to bring out the last issue."

This hatred of the Razz issue was due to an entire section dedicated to sorority gossip, where there was something written for every girl in every sorority on campus. With six sororities averaging thirty girls in each, this was a considerable amount of gossip. The Razz issue contained this editorial: "We desire to have it spread abroad before every one on campus starts snobbing us, that we (editorial we) did NOT write the razz about all the sorority goils, but instead, all of that was written by co-eds, most of which were in the sorority about which they wrote. (So take that and that and that!) Some of the cracks weren't exactly flattering, but as I said before, what do you expect for fifteen cents - a bunch of roses?" Comments ranged from "sweet and innocent" to "she's always near beer and pretzels" and "her sudden crush on a certain person ought to be bad news to Frank W.; or hasn't he heard of it yet. Everyone else has."

Although the content became a bit more crude, physically the Zip 'N' Tang appeared just a professional as before. About the length and width of a regular football program, but all jokes and advertisements were printed on glossy paper. Covers were always in bright color; a picture to go with the theme of the issue, football players for homecoming, a silly depiction of a professor at a blackboard for the faculty exposé, etc. Each issue was locally published by the Laurance Press, with engravings by commercial art engravers. Zip and Tang also worked in association with College Humor, a national publisher of jokes and cartoons aimed for college audiences. At this time, colleges across the nation were locally printing humor magazines and would often take jokes from College Humor and other school publications for filler. The Zip 'N' Tang was reprinted in part in humor magazines from Yale, Boston University, University of Kansas and University of California among others.

Each issue of the Zip 'N' Tang included an abundance of ads, as advertising was the only major source of income. These ads were geared toward the selected college audience. The College Pharmacy boasts that they are "The store with the campus spirit", King's Crown Plaster runs a photo of Eby Gym with their ad and Killian's, a local restaurant, shows two photos: one of a couple at a football game, then the same couple dressed up in a formal dining room. "Go to the game - by all mean. Shout until you're hoarse - and hungry! Then - come to Killian's!"

As the publication fluctuated, coming out eight times a year, then six, then monthly, the Zip 'N' Tang also altered its content, including movie reviews, short stories and even a few feature articles. The 1934-35 editorial staff now included, among contributors and editors, four feature writers, two music critics, two fashion editors, a book reviewer and a town shopper who suggested places to eat, dance and purchase fur coats. That year's homecoming edition also included ballots to vote for the very first Coe Homecoming queen. The salesgirl selling the most copies won a two-dollar prize.

Although a seemingly successful publication among students, on April 16, 1936 the Cosmos reported that the Zip 'N' Tang had been purchased from its current editors by the college and after the year's three remaining issues, the publication would be discontinued. The article says very little, "Since its origin in 1929, when the administration refused to add it to the list of official publications, the Zip 'N' Tang has been owned by the editor and business manager, who each year have purchased the magazine from its previous owners." Rarely spoken of in the Cosmos but included in the literary section of the Acorn, this outlaw won its place in the hearts to students.

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