Bizarre anti-thumb-sucking device from 1923

201010051307 From Popular Science, 1923: "When the child attempts to put the finger, with band and chain attached, into its mouth, the metal parts come in contact with the tongue and roof of mouth. The result is unpleasant, but not painful."

Maybe the kids who were given this treatment grew up to become pioneers of the modern primitives body piercing culture. (Via Mostly Forbidden Zone)


  1. Holy shit. When my wife was a wee girl growing up in 1970’s Jamaica, doctors prescribed a device like this to curb her thumb sucking. But get this: it wasn’t chain. It was an upper palate metal retainer perforated with little spikes, so that every time she stuck her thumb in there it would hurt. An oral iron maiden! (never thought i’d ever string those words together)

  2. I vaguely recall a similar device intended to stop boys from masturbating.

    By “vaguely recall”, I mean “probably traumatized in a past life.” Something to do with metal spikes inside the device.

  3. It’s seemingly appropriate that the description for such a device uses the designated pronoun “it” to refer to a child.

    1. A bunch of popsicle sticks (or tongue depressors) laced together and tied around the elbow will keep the arm from bending and then no thumb (or hand) in the mouth.

      Not nearly as cool (or sadistic) looking as some of these other devices, but it does work. Just strap it on at bed/nap time.

  4. My grandmother, born in Oakland, California in 1925, was made to wear something like this sucker (oho, pun intended!). She said she defiantly sucked her thumb until she was twelve or so whenever the sadistic little device wasn’t on!

  5. Aww poor children! I’m 25 and love sucking my thumb, I’ve been blessed with an overbite and so it’s never pushed my teeth in funny directions. It brings such calm and lovely feelings, and it’s free!! I’ve even found that good friends learn to understand you even with a thumb in your mouth :-)

  6. I knew a girl in high school who wore one of these. The black lipstick was pretty attractive too.

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