BY MARY BEST
Happy Birthday BedTimes!
It’s not every year or even decade that an editorial team has the opportunity to publish the centennial edition of a magazine. But this month, the BedTimes staff has that distinct honor.
To mark the 100th anniversary of BedTimes magazine, we have combed through the magazine’s more than 1,200 issues to find the most poignant narratives to present in this keepsake edition. Written by former BedTimes editor in chief Julie A. Palm, the retrospective offers insights into the issues that have shaped the publication’s editorial focus, its visual presentation, the advertising that has supported it—and its quirky humor.
As the story chronicles, BedTimes (originally called The National Bedding Manufacturer) was first published in August 1917 by the National Association of Bedding Manufacturers, a fledging group organized by a handful of mattress manufacturers who vowed to work together to strengthen and improve the bedding industry.
The world in August 1917 was a very different place than it is today. It would be nearly two years before the Treaty of Versailles was signed in Paris ending “the war to end all worlds,” three years before American women gained the right to vote, 25 years before the first civilian patient was successfully treated with penicillin, 40 years before the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, 72 years before the World Wide Web paved the information highway and 90 years before the iPhone helped revolutionize the way we communicate.
In its first issue, editor John D. Pierce announced the publication’s birth, exclaiming, “It’s a healthy
baby. … We believe it has before it a long and useful life. We must try to make it truthful and to keep it clean, to give it high ideals and purpose in life.”
BedTimes was part of a publishing baby boom in the early 20th century when magazine introductions increased exponentially. The mattress industry’s publication was in good company during its nascent years when such well-known publications as Forbes (1917), Architectural Digest (1920) and Time (1923) launched.
The magazine’s childhood was action packed as the industry tackled the challenges of World War I, unscrupulous manufacturers, the lack of uniform standards and economic hardship.
The publication—like the industry—came of age in the 1940s, when it reported on the industry’s contributions to World War II—shifting production to the war effort and then pivoting to a booming postwar economy.
BedTimes matured in the second half of the 20th century as bedding manufacturers and suppliers focused on flammability legislation, changing consumer trends and advancements in manufacturing.
And during the first couple decades of the 21st century, technology, globalization and rapidly shifting shopping habits dominated its pages.
Even though BedTimes now is a centenarian, it is by no means ready for retirement. The publication continues to expand and deepen its coverage of meaningful issues, offering digital arms—the BedTimesMagazine.com website and BedTimes in Brief newsletter—to publish breaking news, exclusive online articles and more.
The magazine has endured lean times and enjoyed prosperous days. It has deciphered complicated regulations and celebrated industry successes. Its mission, however, remains steadfast: to inform the bedding industry of relevant news, trends and topics in a clear, nonbiased manner.
So, happy 100th birthday, BedTimes! From your current staff—as well as our editorial forebears and successors—may the coming century be as successful and purposeful as your first.