What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

This collection of boringly looking tomes was published in 1956-1961. They were intended for sales workers to learn about peculiarities of this and that product. There, you could find information almost about anything, from ingredients of the ‘Doctorskaya’ boiled sausage to kinds of diamond cuts. So, looking at these tomes, you might come to think that in the USSR they had no food deficit at all.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Sturgeon caviar: processed pressed caviar, beluga granular caviar, pasteurized caviar.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Beluga, sturgeon, sevruga.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Doughnut-shaped bread rolls: with sugar, lemon flavor, poppyseeds.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

China, pottery, majolica vases.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Crystal and glass vases.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

The upper picture: a grocery store window.

The lower picture: a textile store window.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Shoes: leather, textile, felt, boxcalf, suede.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

1 – sweater, 2 – pullover, 3 -jacket with a sleeveless blouse, 4- blouse-jacket, 5 – pullover.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Granular red caviar.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Rugs: Ukrainian, Tyumen, Kursk.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR


What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR


What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Soviet postage stamps.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Children furniture.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Wardrobes and cupboards.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

A sofa bed and a chair bed.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Toy cars.

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR

Rubber boots.

54 thoughts on “What They Were Supposed To Sell In The USSR”

    • Actually most of these products were available to ordinary people, I remember seeing many of this at my relatives and grandparets houses. It was “reality” so if you don’t know then don’t say unnecesary things.

      • Exactly! My family and friends have owned majority of the items listed. Obviously not every motorcycle, but we did have one. During Soviet time everyone could acquire what they needed and most things were of good quality. My grandfather still uses old Soviet refrigerator and 35+ years it works wonderfully! All of those items were accessible when I was younger, period.

  1. Interesting.

    I noticed that meat products — sausages, head cheese, salami — seemed to contain a lot of fat and little meat.

  2. the reality: less than 5% of those products were available to average citizens

    the dream: everything was available to graded military personnel and state employees

    • Everyone was a state employee. And yes, most of these things were available to everyone.

      The USSR was many things (a lot of them bad), but the way you people say it, anyone would think that life back then was about as depressing as it could be.

      Guess you’ve never seen the 1990’s to compare.

      • It isn’t 1990s Russia i compare it too. It’s the standard of living we were accustomed to in the United States during the same period as this, and it was far, far above the standard of living in the USSR during the same time. That is the perspective i see it from. Communism simply didn’t deliver the standard of living to the majority that we had in the west.

        • And don’t misunderstand me. I’m positive the standard of living for your average working class Russian under communism at the time these books were published was as good as it had ever been. Post Stalin the USSR made huge strides in the standard of living for the majority of people. But when you have Khrushchev making bold statements like the one below, that is the perspective that i look at things from as a westerner.

          “Today our task is to tip the scales in world production in favor of the Socialist system against the capitalistic system, to surpass the most advanced capitalist countries in labor productivity and output per head of population, and to attain the world’s highest living standards. In this stage of the competition, the Soviet Union intends to surpass the United States economically.”–N. S. Khrushchev, “Target Figures for the Economic Development of the Soviet Union,” Soviet Booklets, no. 47, London, 1959.

          That was “The Dream” for communism, the reality was they never got there. The standard of living in the USSR always lagged the west under capitalism.

          • BTW that quote is of Khrushchev outlining economic goals for the Seventh 5 year plan (which was actually an attempt at 7 yr planning rather then the normal 5 yrs (’59-’65)) to the 21rst Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR.


            Anyway up until then ordinary Russians never had it better. Life had always been hard for them, for centuries. But when it came to the ideology of communism vs. capitalism “the dream” never panned out. Under communism they never surpassed the standard of living in the west and by the ’80s and the Eleventh Plan the economic situation was heading downhill. By the Twelfth plan the situation was becoming a disaster, and the Thirteenth plan barely made it into it’s first year before the collapse of the USSR and the 1990s that followed. So yes, i understand that by then “the good ol’ days” of the USSR were looking pretty darn good to ordinary Russians.

            • Congratulations to capitalism lol. From my personal experience I can tell you that the standard of living in the west was not much better if at all. More products does not mean that they are always better in quality or performance. More is not better. Capitalist system (which I support with modifications) creates a lot of waste which will not be sustainable in the long term. Eventually something will have to give, hopefully with scientific and tech progress transition will be smooth. In Soviet times, everyone had enough believe it or not. People lived within their means and enjoyed (again, my experience) a quality life. Many items I have from the time period are beautiful; similar items in the west cost a ton of $$$! Soviet Union fell apart at the top, not from the bottom. If people like greedy Gorbys, Yeltsins, Krushchevs and etc wouldn’t be such idiots and would have allowed Soviet Union progress forward and evolve into an improved system instead of stagnating it and breaking it apart Soviet Union would be doing quite well. It was a new system and just like capitalist countries which go through cycles of contractions/expansions & up/downs Soviet Union was too entering a stage where it had slowed. People in power didnt give it a chance to evolve. Plain & simple. When there’s trouble they quit instead of figuring out a real solution. They did not want to give up the power and people didnt do anything to prevent them from destroying a system that was yet to reach its maturity…blah, sorry for rambling but I hope whoever reads this will understand my point. Capitalism is great but it has great number of negatives which have to be fixed before it is too late for all of us. Thanks!

  3. In the USA during this time period, we had a far bigger selection of higher-quality products, available to everyone. Makes me glad again that I was born in the USA.

  4. Americans claim they had it better, but that’s not true. For example, look at how black people in USA were treated back then.
    USSR may have had it’s faults, but USA was, and still is FAR from perfect.

    • Nobody said the Unites States was perfect. Why you would you even think someone is implying such nonsense? That’s just what you read into what’s been said. Of course the U.S. wasn’t and isn’t perfect, it’s all relative.

    • BTW by the time of his death in 1953 Stalin was probably responsible for the deaths of more Soviet citizens then the entire black population of the United States in 1950 (about 15 million, 10% of the U.S. population). The act of Collectivization alone led to millions of deaths, something like 5-10 million lives lost. The great strides in standards of living that the (surviving) Soviet people enjoyed by the late ’50s came at the price of tens of millions of lives lost.

      • Wrong. Famines like these were very common before mechanization in farming. History has plenty of examples of frequent famines. Collective farms and mechanization was what stopped famines from happening again in USSR; United States took a different route—it’s normal to solve a problem in different ways and to get the same/similar result. Civil war in the US also came at great cost, Native Americans paid even higher price, African Americans are still struggling against oppression. Eisenhower administration declared racial discrimination a national security issue, as Communists around the world used the racial discrimination and history of violence in the U.S. as a point of propaganda attack{Dudziak, Mary L. (2002), Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy}. Suddenly U.S. was making strides in civil rights. Progress is often paid in full by sacrifices of those who wanted better future for future generations. United States has exploited and benefited from South America which is still picking up the pieces–just with less resources and more problems. Many immigrant groups like Irish, Italians, and Chinese were received with hate and as in a case with Italians-lynchings. At the end, there’s no point to compare two systems. It is a fact that different societies & cultures have very different ways of thinking. It is easy to see when studying linguistics or just a language that is sufficiently different. Different experiences form variation in values along cultures. What is preferable or optimal for one may not be so for another. Compare traditional values of India to that of the West and you will easily find that they drastically differ. While it may be difficult to understand a happy life without great variety of products, it is possible;). Also, the great variety of “higher quality” products were NOT and are not available to everyone in the United States; quality comes at a hefty price. Those who do not wish to borrow money in order to finance higher quality goods are in the same position as they would have been without such option.When people cant afford something it is not available . In addition, I would like to add that many Soviet products were of excellent quality. They are the type of products that in the U.S. would be far too expensive for average Joe. Lastly, bigger selection and compulsion to own and accumulate things does not equal quality life or happiness for everyone. Your set of values makes United States perfect place for you and many others, but don’t try to define everyone else’s happiness by your standards. I personally find that fewer, reasonably priced, and higher quality products is preferable to the waste which results from too many products…those resources could be used in a much better way… but whatever, I wish you a happy life and I hope you get to enjoy all the options your heart desires)

    • I define it as the material things in life your average citizen can afford to enjoy. The amount of living space available per person, not having to share common spaces like kitchens and bathrooms with other families. Owning things like your own home, a car, air conditioners, dishwashers, washers and dryers, televisions etc. etc. etc.

      That is as opposed to quality of life. One can live a quite frugal life and still enjoy a quality of life that is the same or better then someone else who is financially better off.

      I don’t know what the quality of life was in the USSR for your average citizen. I do know for a fact that the standard of living for your average American was far better the their counterparts in the USSR during the 1950s, ’60s, ’70s & ’80s.

        • For one far many Soviets were living in far smaller living spaces, communally living in shared ktichen and bathroom arrangements, eating far less meat per capita, owning far less cars, had far less disposalble income etc etc etc in the 50s & 60s then Americans did. I don’t care if it was the best life had ever been for Russians in hundreds of years. It didn’t compare to the standard on living in the United States at all. It’s really that simple believe it or not i don’t care.

          • Many? In case you are confused, I’m Russian, born and raised (marked difference between RSFSR and everyone else, especially the secessionist republics). If what you are basing your ridiculous statements are from any of the other soviet republics, that explains a lot.

            I grew up in a state housing unit (apartment). There were four others in my family, and the internal space of the house was something like 120 square metres. Doesn’t sound like “far smaller living spaces”, and certainly never felt like it.

            BTW is that really how you measure life standards? Number of cars? How about general satisfaction with life? How about income equality? Or better yet, how about the %of people living in poverty, relative or not?

            If you are trying to say that what Americans are conditioned to expect in life are far greater than almost everyone else, then all your arguments apply. But if you are trying to say that Americans were generally happier and better of than the average Soviet (RUSSIAN that is, couldn’t care less what happened in the Baltics or Georgia), this is not the way to do it.


      • I find quality of life to be a far more important factor than any washer/dryer/air-conditioner(and I don’t take this one lightly!:)) ownership can be. Things can bring happiness but they hardly compare to that which comes from living life. Hard life with few comforts is not equivalent to an unfulfilled life. I cant speak for everyone as my knowledge is limited to what I learned from people I happened to cross paths with, but the quality of life in SU was not any poorer than that of Americans. As a matter of fact it was a happy time for many. I did meet one individual who felt his quality of life was not great during SU because he wanted foreign things or just more choices. He was not satisfied by choices that he had. Sadly, now that he has options his life has not improved in terms of quality. By the way having to own a car is a decrease in standard of living as far as I’m concerned. Better city planning could have had a great improvement on health and quality of life of many Americans. Far too many people are caged in by their life & creature comforts( especially heavy dependence on a cars((( )

  5. To my western friends. We had all of these in soviet times,except of caviar! Its like blast from the past. I remember these things from pics which used to be in my childhood. But those candies still in sell! their brands never gets old,lol

    • I’m glad that at the peak of communism’s success life was relatively good as far as goods go. It’s just a shame it didn’t last longer, and that it came at the expense of millions of lives lost to the cause to get to that point.

  6. Millions of people were put to death by the Communist agenda, and the ONLY people who were able to buy anything were the USSR leaders.

    Common people lived 3rd world.

    • One out of every six Americans live in poverty. Thats around 50million people.

      So, how would they be better off than the rest of the world? Just because they are American??!!

      • Yes exactly, because they are American ayaa. Seriously. The poverty statistic you quote is a measure of RELATIVE POVERTY compared to the income of other Americans. It is a measure of income inequality, not a measure of ABSOLUTE POVERTY.

        There are well over a billion people living in absolute poverty in the world, and those living in relative poverty in the United States enjoy a standard of living those truly poverty stricken people around the world can only dream of. ๐Ÿ˜‰

        In fact those living in relative poverty in the U.S. qualify for assistance programs like SNAP (Food Stamps). A single person with no income in Florida right know qualifies for $200 US per month in food assistance. You get a debit card that’s replenished with $200 a month to shop for whatever food you want at the supermarket. To put that in perspective i’m 43, single, and my food budget for the month is easily kept under $200 and i eat VERY well.

        Then there’s housing assistance programs to provide rent payments for those in relative poverty (HUD section 8).

        And if you have children you can also be receiving cash assistance as well as the children qualifying for health care coverage.


        so those 1 in 6 Americans living in RELATIVE POVERTY COMPARED TO OTHER AMERICANS still enjoy a standard of living that’s better then several billion other people living on this planet, people who really know what it means to live in absolute poverty.

      • Not that i like statistics but if you scroll down the page and look at the amenities the “poverty stricken” in America enjoy, it gives you a pretty good idea of what it means to be poor in America as defined by government thresholds. I don’t want to downplay how bad some have it, but being a poor American is still a lot better then not being poor in a great rest of the world.



    • The quality of life in USA would have nothing to do with the intelligence level you display Mercal. After reading about 5 or 6 of your comments I think you should be ashamed of your self, and embarrassed.

  7. Anyone who believes America’s “poverty stricken” live like those in poverty in the 3rd world watch to much Al Jazeera, Iranian, North Korean or Chinese TV…maybe Russian TV too? lol

    Poor in America = roof over your head, electricity, running water, likely to own a car, have amenities like air conditioning, appliances like refrigerator, dishwasher, stove, oven, microwave, coffee maker, washer and dryer, cell phone etc. and your simply struggling to pay your bills and living paycheck to paycheck.

    Some have it worse but it’s not that bad when you look at what it means to live in real poverty, like that know by billions of other humans who can only fream of being “Poor in America”.

    • Yes, the poor have all that but they get the benefit of diabetes and other diseases. Assistance differs depending on who it is offered to. Assistance received by mothers when they have a baby comes with restriction on what food products they are allowed to buy. The food that govt assistance permits the use of money on is of very poor nutritional quality. Instead of fresh food it’s canned food. Instead of fresh juice they get sugary concentrate. The poor in America are often overweight and consequently are very sick but ironically they are also starving(for real nutrients). Fruits and vegetables are more expensive than chips and coke—they are stuck in a cage…it is miserable life and they dont know any better. I rather live in a shack without running water and electricity than be poor in the U.S. (seriously! At least I would be free of bills)

    • Tell that to the million upon millions of Ukrainians who starved to death from famine during the Holodomor. If there wasn’t a shortage of food in the Soviet Union those who needed it sure as hell didn’t get access to it. They starved to death instead. And that’s just one example of food shortages during the reign of Communism.

      • There was no Holodomor! Yes, my own great grandmother told me terrible stories about this time period but it was clear that this period of starvation was nothing new! It happened very often before implementation of improvements in agricultural practices. Much of the evidence for holodomor has been based on bias, creative interpretation, and misunderstanding of documents and their relevance. At that time they were faced with a no-win situation, but it that was the last time( except during war) that anyone starved. Starvation was no longer a frequent visitor and in fact it didnt return.So..no need to believe people with political agenda who bastardize history for the sake of personal gain. There are resources on this topic you can look up that dont invent and misinterpret data.

  8. hirsh

    Just listen to yourself. I’m pretty sure you will deny it but you are saying that poor people in America are much better off than others.

    All those assistance programs and government thresholds. Guess what, similar stuff existed here back in the 1990’s. They existed, in name. And yet I remember all the news reporters and just about everyone on tv, claiming that the poor people would be recieving a special payment from the government, that expecting mothers would be getting free access to the necessary healthcare and so on and on. In reality nothing happened.

    So excuse me for not trusting you to be the spokesperson for America’s poor.

  9. Well you’re free to believe want you want ayaa. ๐Ÿ™‚

    But in 2010 40.3 million participants received a total of $68.2 Billion US in food assistance payments. 22,000 people a day applied in 2010. Since the 2008 economic crisis the number of Americans receiving food assistance payments has soared to all time highs. If you meet the income requirements it’s VERY easy to sign up.

    I know because for the first time in my life i did so myself in 2010. It was as simple as sitting down at my desk in my sleepwear one morning with a cup of coffee and spending about 20 minutes filling out an online application. About 30 minutes later a case worker called me on my cell phone and after a 5 minute conversion i was approved. Less the a week later i had a debit card in my mailbox preloaded with my 1rst months payment. In Florida being single and unemployed the amount i received was $200 US per month. I believe that was the maximum amount, it varied depending on your income. Once approved you continue to receive payments for 6 months as long as you remain within the income restrictions to qualify. Every 6 months you have to undergo a quick review (just sign in to your account and answer some questions online) to see if you are still eligible. Now if you’re an able bodied person capable of work they require to apply for work and accept any job offer you get. If you can’t find a job after 2 month i believe it was they required you to sign up to do community service and you had to do 20 hours per week (which is a lot considering the amount of $$$ you receive per month. 200/80 hrs = $2.5 an hour! lol). This is to discourage deadbeats who don’t want to get a job. If you have to do community service it’s not worth it, easier to work. Minimum wage is something like $7.?? per hour.

    However so many people are now receiving food stamps, and the approved places you can perform community service are so few, that there is insufficient hours available to meet demand. So they have waived the community service requirement in many areas of the country, like where i live. If you have children, or are not able bodied and capable of work, you don’t have to work to receive benefits either.

    In short if your humble enough to accept government welfare it’s darn easy to get it in America. And America isn’t even very good at taking care of it’s poor compared to many western nations. But being poor in America is a for better fate then being one of the billions of poor in the 3rd world that knows what it really means to live in grinding soul crushing poverty. Real absolute poverty, not relative poverty, (i.e. 5 out of 6 Americans have it better then you). that’s income inequality not real poverty by any world standard.

    In short the U.S. isn’t Russia. There’s no comparing the broken promises 1990s Russian politicians made and America’s social safety net for the poor.


    • And BTW that’s just food assistance. I didn’t even bother to qualify for housing assistance, or cash assistance that requires you to have children, etc. And that’s just the government help available. Many private organizations religious and otherwise provide their own types of assistance to the poor in addition to the government. When it comes to what it means to live in poverty this ain’t Russia. What we call poverty many Russian poor would call a welcome relief from the real poverty the know. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • I know it may seem irrational or even dishonest but I am being truly completely honest when I say that I would much rather be poor in Russia than poor in America. If I had become poor in United States and circumstances were such that I would have no way to improve my finances I would move to Russia without hesitation. I would move to some distant village somewhere deep in Russia where there are no comforts but at least I will be surrounded by gorgeous nature and true freedom! I’d grow little food and have a better life than I would ever have in the U.S. I would choose to be poor in Russia or Ukraine over being one in America. But I may be the only one strange like that ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. And another BTW, when it comes to ranking western nations and the social safety net they provide for their poor…America doesn’t even do that good of a job at it. Many other nations do better for their poor then we do. But compared to the other 150 something nations in the world we do pretty damned good. Life here isn’t that bad. That’s why so many want to come here, legally or otherwise. Even if your not here legally you can work here for low wages, live frugally in the U.S. and still have money to send home to your family in your home country every month. Millions do it sending money back to Mexico, Central and South America and many other countries were their families still live.

    • That said if your an American and accustomed to the qualify of life we’ve had here for so long, things are BAD right now. ๐Ÿ˜‰ The worse it’s been economically in many many decades. Thus why so many qualify for assistance.

  11. Nice story. Was all of that to convince me that you are poor? Nice try.

    I know that the government provides assistance to some stricken people, but what about the others? What about the homeless people? What about all the dumpster-divers in the New York slums, or the people lines at the job centres? (pls don’t give me any BS about that being propaganda)

    BTW, what exactly do you think Russia is? Some undeveloped African country where some people have never seen a radio, let alone a tv?

    Enjoy those special benefits while you can, because the way the US government is going, you might be seeing the Second Great Depression.

  12. According to hirsh, a sixth of Americans are relying on state benefits for virtually everything in life. Thats a really sound economic policy.

    Especially seeing as the US economies growth is at an absolute minimum while the US’s debt is equal to all of its GDP. And yet, the Senate is too busy passing new draconian laws, that basically allow for anyone to be arrested indefinitely.

    Land of the free, home of the brave, still?

  13. I’m sorry ayaa, cleary you know more about what life is like in the United States then i do having lived here for 43 years. The truth is you are every bit as clueless about the United States as you believe i am About Russia. Your comments sound just as ludicrous and ridiculous as you think mine are about Russia. lmao, that’s OK i find it rather amusing not upsetting.

    And no i’m not trying to convince you i’m poor, because by any standard of that, American or world wide, i’m not. I absolutely live better in better conditions then literally billions of other humans on this planet do, i know it, and i’m grateful for it. Even if 2, or 3, or 4, or 5 out of every 6 Americans live better then i do.

    Anyway your comments clearly indicate you don’t get what i’m trying to explain to you, at all. Nothing to do with propaganda or trying to whitewash the bad things about America. Like anywhere in the world it not black and white. Believe whatever statistics and news reports you want. It doesn’t change the situation on the ground. It’s just what you read about America.

    • Ok. You’ll know more about your own country, I’ll give you that one. But what about everything I see on tv or on different online newspapers? Are saying thats all a lie?

      On another note, you said that five-sixth of Americans are richer than us. I’m 32, married, with a three-year daughter. Adding all my army benefits and everything I earn 105,000rubles a month. Thats around 3500USD. So I’m to understand that, if I was American, I’d be earning three times more, simply because the GDP per capita is three times higher?

      While you are at it, take into consideration, taxes and cost of living. (I usually spend less than half of what I earn)

      • It is all relative ayaa, while you might earn more in the US, but you would be required to spend more as well.

        The wealthiest people “I” know of are the ones who have learned to make the best of the circumstances in which they find themselves. What good is it to have it all, if you are also still unfulfilled?

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