Ad from 1890, when parents wanted fat kids

As rhapsodyangel points out on the Vintage Ads LJ, this fattening syrup outsold Coca-Cola in 1890, by promising that you and your loved ones could be "fat as pigs."

In 1890, this sold more bottles than Coca Cola.


  1. Even in the early 70s, my grandma (who was usually the one who fixed me breakfast and made sure I was ready for school) made me eat everything on my plate, with a “You don’t want to wind up skinny, do you?”

    I don’t blame her for the shape I wound up in, but that’s one of those time machine moments where I wish I could go back and say “yes, I do” and live like I meant it from then on.

    1. I’m guessing your grandmother spent her young adulthood during the Depression, a big era for involuntary skinniness. Even if you had the time machine she probably would have been somewhat puzzled by the answer.

      Overweight or not today, though, as long as you’re happy and healthy I’m sure she’d be pleased.

      1. My mother grew up in the Depression and she was somewhat displeased about me being husky. You can imagine how thrilled she was when I spent my tenth birthday money on a blender.

    1. … and still contained cocaine, as I recall.

      EDIT: Fifty cents a bottle seems rather pricey for the times.

      1.  Pepsi Cola hits the spot. Twelve full ounces, that’s a lot. Twice as much for a nickel, too. Pepsi Cola’s the drink for you!

  2. Come on, Coca Cola will make you fat as a pig, too. But that’s why Coca Cola is still around — under promise, over deliver.

    1. On a number of levels. All I can think of when looking at it is a time when a huge percentage of Americans seldom had enough to eat but were so desparate to keep up appearances and maintain basic body fat that they’d keep this company in business for a generation.

  3. “Yes, friends, now both you and your children can look as prosperous and glamorous as the nation’s leading tycoons and financiers and their offspring. There’s no longer any need to own railroads or coal mines to enter America’s first percentile … of body weight! Buy Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic today!”

    No way this isn’t gonna make a comeback with at least half of America’s voters. Don’t even think of buying the trademark and patent for this stuff: already done and done.

  4. Tasteless chill tonic?  If I’m going to drink something that makes me fat, it’d better friggin’ taste good.

  5. Yes, it was a time when maladies of malnutrition, rather than overnutrition, were the primary pediatric health concern.  A skinny child with low body fat reserves would be less able to survive a gi infection or high fever when “let’s all pray for Timmy,” rather than antibiotics and pedialyte was standard of care.

    1. Exactly.  You needed some fat reserves to survive those regular bouts of cholera, food poisoning and the occasional round of dysentery.  Plus scarlet fever and diphtheria, with their extreme sore throats, made it difficult to impossible for children to eat while coping with a high fever.

  6. Wasn’t this in The Irrational Enquirer (a parody of The National Enquirer)? “You too can be fat as a hog.”

  7. Grove’s later sold a brand of nose drops with the slogan: “Feels as good as Mother putting fresh cream up your nose!”  (Seriously.)

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