Vegetarians: Enemies to the State?

“There is a real danger in the growing vegetarian craze.” Incredibly, this sentence opens a screed against vegetarians in the August 1893 issue of The New York Bazar Magazine. You guessed it, I bought some old magazines at a flea market recently. The essay added, “It is a fact now beyond controversy that the meat-eater has more brain force and nervous energy than the vegetarian. The [vegetarian] is slowly and surely undermining his mental power. If he persists in his folly his intellect will not only be enfeebled, but his children will also lack intellectual vigor, and so each generation will lose something in brain force. The vegetarian doctrine is therefore dangerous to the common weal, and those who profess it are enemies to the State…The vegetarians are persistent in promulgating their injurious doctrines, and should therefore be repressed without hesitation. We are too lenient in such matters. There are some follies which are dangerous, and do not deserve the toleration they receive.” Here I thought people were getting stupider because of too much TV and social media.

The same magazine featured Madam Rowley’s Toilet Mask (or face glove) for “bleaching and preserving the skin and removing complexional imperfections.”  To be worn three times a week, the mask was “recommended by eminent physicians and scientists as a substitute for injurious cosmetics.” 

A product called “Syrup of Figs” acted on the kidneys, liver and bowels without weakening them, effectually cleansing the system, dispelling colds and curing constipation. All this in fifty cent bottles at your druggist. Who doesn’t love the old magazine ads?

The Pictorial ReviewMagazine (October 1928) advertised chocolate-flavored laxative, claiming children begged for Ex-Lax, “It’s the candy!” Most physicians, according to the ad, agreed it was preferable to give children “a palatable laxative rather than castor oil or bitter pills, which might upset their nervous systems.”

Frances Alda, the “Noted Diva” of the Metropolitan Opera was shilling for Lucky Strikes: “No throat irritation, no cough, with absolute safety.” A product called Inecto Rapid Notox from the Notox Company recolored gray hair with “amazing naturalness”, and Lux Toilet Soap claimed that of the precisely 435 important actresses and stars in Hollywood, exactly 417 of them used Lux Toilet Soap.

Quaker Oats promised the “crunchy texture” of its “Pettijohn’s” wheat cereal was “good for lazy teeth as well as lazy digestion.” Not be outdone, Fleischmann’s Yeast unclogged poisons in the system, calmed nerves and cured skin disorders, making you “radiantly well and happy.”

Town and Country Magazine (May 1916) advertised a toilet soap, made by the Societe Hygeienique in Paris, “so pure you could eat it,” and Franco-American Soups, “the soup of the epicure,” claimed its 20 soups were from the personal recipes of the former superintendent of the palace of H.M. King George of Greece. Batavia Tire Company was using the slogan “Is your car tired—or are you?” Both Ajax Rubber Company and Lee Rubber Company guaranteed their tires could handle 5,000 miles. Lee Tire followed up with its trademark: “Smiles at Miles.”

In Modern Prescilla Magazine (February 1928), Kellogg’s promised that eating 100% All-Bran “according to directions” would relieve constipation, or your money back. The cereal was “cooked and krumbled the Kellogg way.” Kraft Food offered a “delightful new dairy” item called Nukraft, “a product of science combined with the cheesemaker’s art.”

McCalls(July 1933) advertised Campbell’s 21 Delicious Soups, included Mulligatawny, Mock Turtle, Ox Tail and Printanier, which was described as “exquisitely blended chicken and beef broth with vegetables in fancy shapes.” Coca-Cola promised “No after-lunch drowsiness”, claiming an ice-cold Coca Cola was “a particular kind of drink combining those pleasant, wholesome substances which foremost scientists say do most in restoring you to your normal self.” The lemon industry claimed a daily use of lemons “tends” to arrest tooth decay, gum troubles and pyorrhea, aid digestion and stimulate appetitive. Camel Cigarettes concluded most women were sensitive to the difference of tobacco qualities much like they could tell whether a sauce had been made with cream or milk and whether lemon or vinegar had been used in a salad dressing. That, according to the ad, was why women were turning to Camels.

The Literary Digestfrom December 1916 reported DuPont Company was granting its employees a 20% war bonus raise. The Great War in Europe had been going on since August 1914.

Winter travel options were provided to readers. Travel by ocean on the Clyde Lines, round trip from New York to Jacksonville, started at $43.30. Making the round trip by train, exclusive of meals and Pullman accommodations cost $51.30. Both companies didn’t round the thirty cents off. I guess thirty cents was worth something then.

Finally, the Standard Oil Company offered a health product called “Nujul,” which acted as “an internal lubricant to soften the contents of the intestines and promote normal evacuations.” The key to good health in old age, the ad claimed, “is the prevention of bowel disorders.”