7-Up to moms: "Give 7-Up to your babies!" (1956)

This 1956 Life ad for 7-Up urges parents to feed it to babies: "For a fact, you can even give this sparkling drink to babies--and without any qualms. Lots of mothers do just that!"

1956 Ad Says Feed 7-Up To Babies


  1. Prior to 1950 7-Up contained lithium citrate – so of course it made the toddlers docile – dunno about the 1956 iteration though.

    Gripe water used to contain gin – which also helped the kids sleep – but then later you’d have a hungover midget on your hands.

    1. Gripe water is still typically 3 or 4% ABV, at least in Canada. You can get non-alcoholic versions, but then what’s the point? Gripe water is a way to give a kid a beer without having to admit that’s what you’re doing. Why would you need deniability to give a kid a near-beer, and anyway what benefit would it have?

  2. I like the part where they say they’re proud to tell you what’s in it, even though they don’t legally have to.

    Also, Beetus.

  3. What alarms me is not so much the idea suggested(which is certainly far too sugary for kiddo; but is hardly the worst); but the implications about what some of the other entrants into the soft-drink market may have been like.

    The health issue with soda isn’t that it is “impure” or “unwholesome”; but that it is sugar water in virtually unlimited quantities. What sorts of things were in sodas that “We actually list the ingredients!” would be a selling point?

  4. The funny thing is, for the majority of people who are not genetically northern European, the cow’s milk we now insist babies, toddlers, and school-aged children drink instead is even worse for them. Lactose intolerance is the norm around the world, not the exception; at least sucrose doesn’t cause discomfort (or diarrhea, which can be life threatening in a baby).

    1. Um, you do realize that all milk contains lactose, including human milk? Lactose intolerance is _very_ rare in babies as they will die unless they get no-lactose milk instead of breastmilk. Try cows protein allergy for your rant, that works better.

      1. The lactose in human milk is specific to human needs and adjusts as the baby gets older, as does every other component in breast milk. Once past the stage of breastfeeding as primary nutrition, the majority of toddlers/young children (worldwide) can no longer digest lactose.

        It has nothing to do with an allergy.

        1. “The lactose in human milk is specific to human needs and adjusts as the baby gets older”
          Really? Mind giving a citation for that? As far as I know lactose is lactose is lactose, and if a baby is lactose intolerant it will be lactose intolerant to breastmilk.

          “Once past the stage of breastfeeding as primary nutrition, the majority of toddlers/young children (worldwide) can no longer digest lactose.”
          Lactase production doesn’t just stop. The production of it decreases, and at the same time the bowel problems increases as the amount of undigested lactose increases. Symptoms in children younger than um… 5 I think is not that usual. But usually there is some production or lactase, even in adults.

          “It has nothing to do with an allergy.”
          No, but cows milk protein allergy does, and that is what many small children are having symptoms to, when they drink milk. This usually goes away as children get older, though.

          And yes, I have a daughter (Non-Northern European decent) who is lactose intolerant and started showing symptoms at 5yo. She does drink and eat low-lactose and no-lactose dairy products, including cows milk.

          1. CH: your international, trans-racial adoptee should not be forced to have cow’s milk products just because she is now living in a different country. The fact that you have to go to such lengths to enable her to eat and drink these products without too much discomfort should tell you something. She doesn’t need them. Even goat’s milk would be easier to digest, and no animal dairy at all would be much better for her system (and simpler).

            Chevan: you’re wrong. First, it’s a true lactose *allergy*, not intolerance, that is rare. Second, people of northern European descent have the greatest likelihood of being able to digest lactose after the first few years. Most others in the world do not have this ability. For example, from Wikipedia:

            African Americans: 75% intolerant
            Asian Americans: 90% intolerant
            Native Americans: 100% intolerant

            blueelm: *fistbump*

          2. Please re-read my comment. I said tolerance, not intolerance.

            And I think I’ll trust the NIH over Wikipedia.


            >Primary lactase deficiency develops over time and begins after about age 2 when the body begins to produce less lactase. Most children who have lactase deficiency do not experience symptoms of lactose intolerance until late adolescence or adulthood.

            Or you can read some reviews: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1753-4887.1998.tb01652.x/abstract

            >Human adult-onset lactase decline is a biologic feature characteristic of the maturing intestine in the majority of the world’s population.

            Yes, the majority of the world is lactose intolerant. But that doesn’t mean we hit early childhood and BAM can’t consume lactose anymore. It means that starting in early childhood, we have a decline in lactase expression that continues throughout our lives, resulting in impaired lactose digestion that starts to have noticeable health consequences in adolesence to early adulthood.

            To put it quite simply: you’re misrepresenting the biological reality.

          3. Please re-read my comment. I said tolerance, not intolerance.

            Yes, you’re right, I missed that. Sorry.

            Your NIH quote does point out that babies’ lactase production (to digest lactose) starts cutting down at age two, which is when lactose intolerance starts. It says that most people aren’t fully lactose intolerant until adulthood. I have no idea why they would say that, because it isn’t true.

            It makes one reference to the fact that “some ethnic and racial populations are more affected than others, including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, and Asian Americans” (i.e., everyone but white Americans) and that “the condition is least common among Americans of northern European descent.” And then it goes on at length to offer all the ways to make sure that every American gets lots of dairy in their diet on a daily basis despite having the natural intolerance. It’s almost as if the dairy counsel wrote the article.

            I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Pfft-of-All-Knowledge (Wikipedia) was actually more factual and objective in this case than the NIH article.

          4. Not to interrupt your rant, but the only difference is to what degree people are lactose intolerant, not _if_ they are.

            Let me assure you (having lived in some and traveled in other places there) that literally hundreds of millions of East & South East Asians consume milk and milk products. Now they may not be able to down a liter of milk without symptoms (neither am I, and I’m European) but that doesn’t prevent them from putting milk in their coffee or eating ice cream.

          5. Yes, Western diet is being emulated in Eastern countries. There are even McDonald’s locations in Asia. Doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them.

          6. I just take issue with you saying that milk is worse than soda for a majority of humans and that there is a fundamental difference between Europeans and the rest of the world. The only difference is in how much milk you can drink, not _if_ you can drink it.

          7. But that’s not what I said originally. I pointed out that we’re all laughing at the notion that feeding soda to a baby is wrong, but we’re not even slightly skeptical about the idea of insisting that all babies, toddlers, and children drink/eat cow’s milk products on a daily basis, especially considering the fact that the majority of people in the world actually have difficulty doing so. Perhaps 50-60 years from now, our grandchildren will be reading BB and laughing at a similar ad from the Dairy Council promoting cow’s milk in a sippy cup.

            BTW, there *is* a fundamental difference between Europeans and the rest of the world with regard to this particular gene mutation.

    2. This. Being lactose intolerant used to be something people just completely didn’t get. I thought bowel problems, cramping, and nausea were just “normal” things people put up with when they drank milk!

    3. Yes, true lactose tolerance is rare, but the majority of humans today have a form of lactose intolerance that doesn’t kick in until you’re in your twenties. You start off tolerant, and move from partially tolerant to intolerant as you stop producing the necessary enzymes as you age. Almost all toddlers through teenagers can drink milk just fine.

  5. We forget nowadays that sugar water used to be a common thing to give babies. In that context, this isn’t really that shocking.

  6. Coincidence that I just picked up a can of 7up at a restaurant for lunch. After reading the nutritional information which stated there are 46 grams of sugar in that can I put it back down and grabbed something diet instead.

  7. My grandfather refused to drink cola because they had a secret formula, but would drink Seven Up. This is the first time I had seen the marketing behind it.

  8. The ‘Soldier of Fortune’ in the onesie is around 45, receding hairline, and teeth rotted out from drinking 7-Up. Stunted his growth and liver but did wonders for his complexion.

    ‘Barkeeper – another shot in my sippie cup, if you will please – and keep em comin!’.

  9. Enough of anything is going to be bad for babies. A few squirts of soda for the li’l squirt every once in a while isn’t the end of the world (although it’s not something I would ever subject my kids to).

    1. Hang on…what? Sure, no harm in it…but no way am I going to let MY kids near it?

      My folks/grandfolks used to give us Canada Dry whenever we had colds/flus when we were wee ones. This was back in the 70’s. Wondering if that’s still a viable aid…

      either way…that picture is…odd…

  10. When my baby was sick (twenty years ago), the doctor said that for short term minor ailments like a cold – instead of Pedialyte, I should just give her some flat Seven-Up.

    It still makes enough sense to me.

  11. What’s good for business is good for America!

    The 7-Up Corporation makes money, weight loss specialists make money, doctors make money– it’s a win/win situation!

  12. my parents gave me unlimited soda beginning when i was a toddler and continuing throughout childhood. i was also born addicted to nicotine, my mom having smoked 2+ packs a day every day she was pregnant with me. thanks mom and dad!!! <3

  13. About the only time I drank 7-Up as a kid, was when I’d been sick and unable to eat regular meals, my Mom would give me 7-Up and saltine crackers.

    1. That is EXACTLY how I first tasted 7-Up. My mom always gave it to us as children when we had an upset stomach, I suppose because it tasted so much better than Alka-Seltzer. And the saltine cracker was the chaser!

    2. Same here. To this day, I associate the flavor of 7up with being ill. Probably why I rarely drink any.

  14. I find it bizarre that the most popular soft drinks in America all started out as medicines, more or less.

    Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda was the original name of 7up.

    It launched just two weeks before the 1929 stock market crash.

    Great Depression indeed.

  15. Not that it’s great to give your kid lots of sugar, but a little bit doesn’t seem that bad to me. The only thing that seems potentially bad might be the gas? Because gassy babies aren’t any fun. That much I know.

  16. Every era has foolishness.
    Nowadays it is fruit juices being served to babies and toddlers. Caffeinated products are also given to small children as they consume high fat products in fast food establishments. Look at the sale of high fructose products aimed at children. We shouldn’t feel so righteous.

  17. This type of campaign (soda is so wholesome… for babies) was used well into the 80s in various parts of the world, to the point that the government of Zambia banned Fanta Advertising in 1984, because a majority of malnourished children were labeled “Fanta babies” in some hospitals: they had been fed fanta instead of food.

  18. Drinking ginger ale or ginger beer when sick with stomach problems makes sense; ginger is good for digestion. Drinking ginger ale and eating saltine crackers is a common folk remedy for people who are sick and can’t keep normal food and drink down. That notion must have gotten transferred to 7-Up due to its being “sort of like ginger ale” even though 7-Up doesn’t contain any ginger.

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