Foster Grant, originally known as the Foster Manufacturing Company that produced celluloid combs and accessories starting in 1919, began making inexpensive sunglasses by hand in 1929 to sell in Atlantic City, NJ. The fun sunwear was a novelty distraction during the Depression. Then, as the first company to use the German-made injection molding machine in 1931, the company eventually became the largest plano sunglass maker in the country.

Foster Grants became synonymous with Hollywood glamour and effortless chic with the countless stars who wore them. Its famous advertising slogan, “Who’s that behind those Foster Grants?” originated in the ’60s and featured such Hollywood icons as Peter Sellers, Mia Farrow, Anita Ekberg, Vanessa Redgrave and Anthony Quinn. In addition to the popular wearers, Foster Grants featured an ff77 lens, an “electronically controlled filter factor lens that screens out 77% of the sun’s rays and assures safe protection.”

The slogan was reintroduced in 1999 with supermodel Cindy Crawford. Former screen siren Raquel Welch even reprised her role in 2009, this time for reading glasses. In 2012, the company shifted its demographic and actor Brooke Shields was named the new face of the brand. Today, the “original American sunglass brand,” now based in Rhode Island, continues to supply sunglasses and ophthalmics to wearers worldwide.

Courtesy of the Leominster Historical Society and the Optical Heritage Museum, opticalheritagemuseum.com.


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