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"The Million-Dollar Idea"
Season 3, Episode 13
#79 in Series
Network: CBS-TV
Air date: January 11, 1954
Written by: Bob Carroll Jr.
Madelyn Pugh
Jess Oppenheimer
Directed by: William Asher
Production code: 3-12 / 079
Episode guide
IMDB The Million-Dollar Idea
Episode chronology
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"Ricky's Old Girlfriend" "Ricky Minds the Baby"

The Million-Dollar Idea was the 79th episode of I Love Lucy, also the 12th episode of Season 3 of the series. The episode, was directed by William Asher, originally aired on CBS-TV on January 11, 1954.


Lucy concocts a delicious salad dressing, and Fred tells her she ought to sell it. Marketing the product as "Aunt Martha's Old Fashioned Salad Dressing," the girls manage to receive hundreds of orders. The problem: they've priced the product so cheaply that it will cost them rather than make them money.


As one of Fred's many "get-rich-quick schemes," Lucy and Ethel go on TV to sell Aunt Martha's Old-Fashioned Salad Dressing. But the girls end up paying more to make the salad dressing than they do selling it!


  • Curiously, Lucy and Ethel both have an Aunt Martha. We learn of Lucy's aunt in this episode, and we learn about Ethel's Aunt Martha in "Face to Face."
  • This episode has Ethel's second (of three) middle names. This time, her middle name is Roberta, after Vivian Vance's real middle name.
  • The name of the "average housewife" Lucy appears as first on The Dickie Davis Show is Isabella Klump. She then appears as "average housewife" Lucille McGillicuddy.
  • Unfortunately, we never learn what flavor Aunt Martha's Old-Fashioned Salad Dressing is. We only learn that the recipe to make it includes salt, onions, and oil.
  • Ethel and Lucy both want to buy mink coats with the money they hope to make off of selling the salad dressing. Lucy also wants to buy a country hours with tennis courts and horses, and she hopes to buy her bank and fire the teller who squealed about her account being overdrawn.
  • When Ricky mutters in Spanish after learning about the salad dressing business venture, Lucy says that what Ricky said in Spanish wasn't true. But Ricky's Spanish translates into him saying that the girls didn't know what they were doing, so he was actually telling the truth!
  • The girls had received 23 orders for the salad dressing at the end of their first commercial.
  • The slogan for Nelson Photo Finishing Company, also promoted on The Dickie Davis Show, is the clever line "our busiiness is developing."
  • While stalling, Lucy eats 10 of the "gooey" pastries.
  • Lucille Ball made a rare dialogue error towards the end of the episode. She tells Ricky that she and Ethel have made 1153 orders, but later, she tells Ricky how there are only 1133 jars available.
  • Caroline Appleby made 3 cents a jar for the salad dressing, as her pay for letting Lucy and Ethel use husband Charlie's TV station to advertise. Lucy and Ethel charged 40 cents a quart, and after subtracting all of the grocery costs to make the salad dressing, they only had a 3-cent profit, which went to Carolyn.
  • The salad dressing the girls bought at the store and pasted their label on cost 50 cents a quart, 10 cents more than what they were charging.


Guest starringEdit

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