"In war in the gloom of attack, soldiers wear a bright badge to be sure that comrades do not fire on comrades. Those who cooperate in this program must know each other at a glance. That bright badge is the Blue Eagle.”
–Franklin D. Roosevelt, July 24, 1933
The Blue Eagle emblem symbolized patriotism and hope in the U.S. for a short period during the Great Depression. Firms that agreed to abide by the rules of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 – an economic plan to create jobs, increase pay, and decrease competition among businesses – were allowed to display the emblem on products, store windows, and advertising.
Economic historian Jason Taylor, one of the nation’s foremost scholars on the NIRA, notes that patriotic symbols such as the Blue Eagle can influence consumers to buy goods and services from affiliated businesses. “Rather than seeking the best price-quality-location package, consumers may be willing, in the short run, to pay a premium for a purchase that they feel is contributing to national well-being,” Taylor says.
With the current increased economic stress in the U.S., along with the growing trend of globalization, Taylor says there have been calls again for an increase in patriotic buying with the “Made in the USA” symbol, which is like a modern Blue Eagle.
In studying the NIRA for more than 10 years, Taylor has concluded it lends important insight into modern economic theory.
“The lesson that an examination of the Blue Eagle provides is that any patriotic surge in buying American products today, even when better values are available elsewhere, will likely only be short-lived,” Taylor says. “Consumers will only deal with losses for so long before they go back to purchasing the best value, whether foreign or domestic.”