Food, Drink and Health Advertisements From the ‘Mad Men’ Era

Government nutrition guidelines, Lipitor for kids … after the two last posts, I’m afraid I may be inducing depression.  Since I need to spend tonight figuring out how Windows 7 managed to create a database connection error in my software, it seems like a good time to post something just for fun.  So here are some ads for food, drinks, and health products from a bygone era.

Ladies, this is why you need to take your vitamins.  I consider my wife a beautiful woman, but man, she’s never hotter than when she’s cleaning the house … especially when she puts on those old gray sweatpants of hers.  No vitamins, no energy, no housework, no sex appeal.

Well, that’s the downside of taking your vitamins and becoming a housework hottie:  you end up with a baby.  Thank goodness for beer.  (I’ve always thought the worst brand names for beer were Blatz and Schlitz.  They sound too much like beer’s after-effects.)

Sure, breast-feeding is better for the baby — especially after a few beers full of nourishing malt — but eventually you’ve got to wean them.  But parents, please:  don’t be stupid and give your kids Seven-Up.  If you want to hook them on sugar, give them a juice box instead.  I know juice boxes are good, because they’re available at my daughter’s school in the government-approved cafeteria.

So that baby grows up and goes to high school.  How do you ensure that she’s a happy, energetic, swingin’ teen?  Keep feeding her sugar.  Lots and lots of sugar.  High sugar consumption explains why today’s teens are in even better shape than this one.

And while your teen is at school, relax with the cigarette more doctors prefer.  (Honestly, can you believe some doctors back then were so stupid, they’d actually endorse cigarettes?!  Now they just put diabetics on high-carbohydrate diets and prescribe Lipitor to everyone whose cholesterol is over 200.)

It happens to so many of us … by the time the kids leave for college, we’re middle-aged and getting thick around the middle.  But thank goodness, it turns out sanitized tape worms will keep you slim.  They’re also easy to swallow and, as you see from the label, produce no ill effects.  (Clearly, that last claim is based on careful research conducted by Merck and Pfizer.) 

This may not seem like a health-related ad, but it is.  My wife gets up early with our girls and makes coffee, so when I wake up later, it’s just sitting there in the pot, all warm and delicious.  This makes me happy, and is thus good for my health.  On the other hand, if I ever expressed my displeasure with my wife’s coffee as shown above, I promise it would be very, very bad for my health.  Willie Nelson’s first wife once sewed him into a bedsheet while he was sleeping, then beat the daylights out of him with a broom stick.  I’d expect my wife to be at least that creative.

And finally, here’s one I think we can all agree is just as true now as it was 50 years ago.


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52 thoughts on “Food, Drink and Health Advertisements From the ‘Mad Men’ Era

  1. Richard Tamesis, M.D.

    When I was doing my internship in West Virginia, I had an attending cardiologist who refused to believe that smoking was bad for you. My brother who is also cardiologist, worships at the altar of statins and is diabetic and morbidly obese to boot. There must be something about cardiology that makes them more prone to blinders.

    So I take it the attending cardiologist preferred Camels?

  2. Wanda

    That last one is truer than you may realize… real rendered Lard is a great source of vitamin D, and we all know that D contributes to mental health. If only my father, on 3 different anti-depressants, would just take some D and eat a restricted carb diet, he may be able to get off the meds. So sad.

    I know it’s true. Once I started putting real, natural animal fats back into my diet, I could feel the difference. It’s what nature intended us to eat, not soybean oil.

  3. monasmee

    One of the ads reminds me of a 3 Stooges bit….

    Moe: “Is that all you’re gonna eat for breakfast is a burnt piece of toast?”

    Curly: “Yeah, I got a tapeworm, and I don’t wanna give him the satisfaction!”

    Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

  4. k_the_c

    Actually, some parasites do form a symbiotic relationship with a human host. Not saying tape worms are. But, there have been clinical success using hookworms to treat immune system related diseases like allergies and Crohn’s disease. Google “David Pritchard hookworms.”

    Our guts are full of bacteria that help us digest food. But I think I’ll skip the tape worms.

  5. TonyNZ

    I had dinner with an oncologist some time back, after dinner he lit up a cigar. He then informed everyone that just because something is bad, you have to balance enjoyment with health, and that mouth cancers were easier to treat than lung cancers, so cigars are by far the better option.

    And the GP I went to not long ago had a big Scotch whisky flavour map on the wall.

    If people ban all things that are (percieved to be) unhealthy then will you be happier?

    “My brother who is also cardiologist, worships at the altar of statins and is diabetic and morbidly obese to boot.”

    Doc: I’m gonna put you on statins.

    Patient: Do they work?

    Doc: They worked for me!

    Patient: Ummm, can I see your certification?

  6. Richard Tamesis, M.D.

    When I was doing my internship in West Virginia, I had an attending cardiologist who refused to believe that smoking was bad for you. My brother who is also cardiologist, worships at the altar of statins and is diabetic and morbidly obese to boot. There must be something about cardiology that makes them more prone to blinders.

    So I take it the attending cardiologist preferred Camels?

  7. Wanda

    That last one is truer than you may realize… real rendered Lard is a great source of vitamin D, and we all know that D contributes to mental health. If only my father, on 3 different anti-depressants, would just take some D and eat a restricted carb diet, he may be able to get off the meds. So sad.

    I know it’s true. Once I started putting real, natural animal fats back into my diet, I could feel the difference. It’s what nature intended us to eat, not soybean oil.

  8. monasmee

    One of the ads reminds me of a 3 Stooges bit….

    Moe: “Is that all you’re gonna eat for breakfast is a burnt piece of toast?”

    Curly: “Yeah, I got a tapeworm, and I don’t wanna give him the satisfaction!”

    Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.

  9. k_the_c

    Actually, some parasites do form a symbiotic relationship with a human host. Not saying tape worms are. But, there have been clinical success using hookworms to treat immune system related diseases like allergies and Crohn’s disease. Google “David Pritchard hookworms.”

    Our guts are full of bacteria that help us digest food. But I think I’ll skip the tape worms.

  10. TonyNZ

    I had dinner with an oncologist some time back, after dinner he lit up a cigar. He then informed everyone that just because something is bad, you have to balance enjoyment with health, and that mouth cancers were easier to treat than lung cancers, so cigars are by far the better option.

    And the GP I went to not long ago had a big Scotch whisky flavour map on the wall.

    If people ban all things that are (percieved to be) unhealthy then will you be happier?

    “My brother who is also cardiologist, worships at the altar of statins and is diabetic and morbidly obese to boot.”

    Doc: I’m gonna put you on statins.

    Patient: Do they work?

    Doc: They worked for me!

    Patient: Ummm, can I see your certification?

  11. Ana C.

    The way we looked at it now, those previous advertisements are kinda alarming, and creepy. Humor sells and I can still cheer to that “Mad Men Era”., for it did inspire TV sitcoms.

    Definitely a touch of creepiness in those ads.

  12. Lynne

    I was sent to a cardiologist once because I was having heart rhythm problems. She spent 3 days sending me for high-tech tests and hooking me up to machines, all to tell me (1) she couldn’t find what was wrong but it was normal not to know, and (2) that despite not knowing the cause I should take her heart drugs (side effects guaranteed to actually cause real permanent damage my heart within 5 years), and (3) my efforts toward better health by eating like my always healthy grandparents did (meat, meat fat, low starch/lots of vegees, no crapola, etc) were HORRID because (and I quote, though you have to add her near-shrieking for the true effect), “Food is poison! Food is poison!”

    Btw, I never did or took anything she said, but within a week I cured all of my heart (and sleep) symptoms – all – by eliminating simply caffeine.

    I’m starting to think “First, do no harm” was replaced with “First, sell some drugs.” Eliminating caffeine would make me shriek, but I’m glad you figured it out.

  13. Jan

    Then I am going to be very happy – we just ordered a whole pig (Arnold) to keep our side of grass-fed beef (Chuck) company in our freezer, and I’ve asked for the lard. Since I got a huge amount of tallow from Chuck, I guess I better start rendering the stuff.

    We have some pig fat in the freezer, waiting to be rendered. I bet it will make me happy.

  14. Dianne

    My old roommate used to have a copy of an old ad in our kitchen that said, “Her sparkling new stove made Markie practically ache to cook.” (I don’t think I’ve ever “ached” to cook.) And of course, the old, “Do I dare offer a lady a Tipperelo?” (Yes, they dared, and I accepted. I’ve smarted up since then.)

    Thanks for smiles for the start of my day. (Except for the baby with the 7-Up — too many people still think that’s okay.)

    My girls aren’t babies, but a neighbor recently gave them each a soda and a fruit roll-up while they were playing with his kids. Time for a little discussion …

  15. Jonathan

    Found this on the lard ad. Probably more are spoofs too, but funny anyway.
    “This is a spoof from the British satirical comic Viz, issue 52, February / March 1992, on page 21. It’s not a real advertisement.”
    Little did they know it is really true.

    Now if I could only find a good source of lard without the hydrogenation they sell at the store. The lady at the local farmers market doesn’t have any when I check. I’ll just stick to bacon grease. Not that I really need another excuse to cook up some bacon. Emmmm….

    Rats, I thought that was a read ad. It shows how far off track we’ve gotten when the idea that lard is good for you is considered comic material.

  16. Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson

    Hi tom,

    Those are hilarious, yet scary too. Remember the ‘good old days’ when hard liquor and cigarettes were advertised on TV?
    Have you ever seen the old clip of the Flintstones advertising Winston cigarettes?

    We’ve sure come a long way since those days. Or have we?

    I’m not sure we’ve come all that far. Perhaps 50 years from now, people will be laughing at our ads for Lipitor and low-fat foods. Let’s hope, anyway.

  17. Ana C.

    The way we looked at it now, those previous advertisements are kinda alarming, and creepy. Humor sells and I can still cheer to that “Mad Men Era”., for it did inspire TV sitcoms.

    Definitely a touch of creepiness in those ads.

  18. Lynne

    I was sent to a cardiologist once because I was having heart rhythm problems. She spent 3 days sending me for high-tech tests and hooking me up to machines, all to tell me (1) she couldn’t find what was wrong but it was normal not to know, and (2) that despite not knowing the cause I should take her heart drugs (side effects guaranteed to actually cause real permanent damage my heart within 5 years), and (3) my efforts toward better health by eating like my always healthy grandparents did (meat, meat fat, low starch/lots of vegees, no crapola, etc) were HORRID because (and I quote, though you have to add her near-shrieking for the true effect), “Food is poison! Food is poison!”

    Btw, I never did or took anything she said, but within a week I cured all of my heart (and sleep) symptoms – all – by eliminating simply caffeine.

    I’m starting to think “First, do no harm” was replaced with “First, sell some drugs.” Eliminating caffeine would make me shriek, but I’m glad you figured it out.

  19. Amy Dungan

    These are a hoot… and so sad at the same time. Love how they pushed new moms to drink beer because it’s good for the babies. It’s all about the grains.

    I too wonder what kind of message some of these were sending. Don’t like the coffee? Beat your wife! Is the house sparkling? Give her vitamins so she’ll work like a slave! LOL

    John knows better. He tells people if he treated me like that he wouldn’t see me for two weeks… because that’s when the swelling from his eyes would go down. 🙂

    Well, he did nice Willie Nelson impression on the cruise, so I think you’d be obligated to your impression of Willie’s first wife.

  20. Jan

    Then I am going to be very happy – we just ordered a whole pig (Arnold) to keep our side of grass-fed beef (Chuck) company in our freezer, and I’ve asked for the lard. Since I got a huge amount of tallow from Chuck, I guess I better start rendering the stuff.

    We have some pig fat in the freezer, waiting to be rendered. I bet it will make me happy.

  21. Dianne

    My old roommate used to have a copy of an old ad in our kitchen that said, “Her sparkling new stove made Markie practically ache to cook.” (I don’t think I’ve ever “ached” to cook.) And of course, the old, “Do I dare offer a lady a Tipperelo?” (Yes, they dared, and I accepted. I’ve smarted up since then.)

    Thanks for smiles for the start of my day. (Except for the baby with the 7-Up — too many people still think that’s okay.)

    My girls aren’t babies, but a neighbor recently gave them each a soda and a fruit roll-up while they were playing with his kids. Time for a little discussion …

  22. Jonathan

    Found this on the lard ad. Probably more are spoofs too, but funny anyway.
    “This is a spoof from the British satirical comic Viz, issue 52, February / March 1992, on page 21. It’s not a real advertisement.”
    Little did they know it is really true.

    Now if I could only find a good source of lard without the hydrogenation they sell at the store. The lady at the local farmers market doesn’t have any when I check. I’ll just stick to bacon grease. Not that I really need another excuse to cook up some bacon. Emmmm….

    Rats, I thought that was a read ad. It shows how far off track we’ve gotten when the idea that lard is good for you is considered comic material.

  23. Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson

    Hi tom,

    Those are hilarious, yet scary too. Remember the ‘good old days’ when hard liquor and cigarettes were advertised on TV?
    Have you ever seen the old clip of the Flintstones advertising Winston cigarettes?

    We’ve sure come a long way since those days. Or have we?

    I’m not sure we’ve come all that far. Perhaps 50 years from now, people will be laughing at our ads for Lipitor and low-fat foods. Let’s hope, anyway.

  24. Alec

    About the kids and soda- I swear I can’t see a kid walking down the street nowadays without seeing a soda or energy drink in their hand. And by kids I mean teenagers down through kinder-gardeners. And these aren’t cans of soda, they’re the huge 20 or 24oz bottles! I don’t remember this when I was a kid, and I was born in the early 80s! No wonder all these kids nowadays are fat!

    Big belts of fructose … diabetes waiting to happen.

  25. Amy Dungan

    These are a hoot… and so sad at the same time. Love how they pushed new moms to drink beer because it’s good for the babies. It’s all about the grains.

    I too wonder what kind of message some of these were sending. Don’t like the coffee? Beat your wife! Is the house sparkling? Give her vitamins so she’ll work like a slave! LOL

    John knows better. He tells people if he treated me like that he wouldn’t see me for two weeks… because that’s when the swelling from his eyes would go down. 🙂

    Well, he did nice Willie Nelson impression on the cruise, so I think you’d be obligated to your impression of Willie’s first wife.

  26. D.

    My sister-in-law, at the tender age of 17, was told to start smoking for her nerves –by a doctor! She got hooked, stopped for about 2 months to have a hip replacement, then went back to smoking until she was diagnosed with COPD, and couldn’t breathe anymore without oxygen. Stupid doctor. She was truly and completely addicted to cigarettes, until it nearly killed her. Well, actually, smoking did kill her, she died from complications of COPD last year. Thank goodness my husband (her baby brother) never took up the habit.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your pictorial review, it brought a smile to my otherwise too busy day.

    I hope the advice to take up smoking happened a looooong time ago.

  27. Alec

    About the kids and soda- I swear I can’t see a kid walking down the street nowadays without seeing a soda or energy drink in their hand. And by kids I mean teenagers down through kinder-gardeners. And these aren’t cans of soda, they’re the huge 20 or 24oz bottles! I don’t remember this when I was a kid, and I was born in the early 80s! No wonder all these kids nowadays are fat!

    Big belts of fructose … diabetes waiting to happen.

  28. D.

    My sister-in-law, at the tender age of 17, was told to start smoking for her nerves –by a doctor! She got hooked, stopped for about 2 months to have a hip replacement, then went back to smoking until she was diagnosed with COPD, and couldn’t breathe anymore without oxygen. Stupid doctor. She was truly and completely addicted to cigarettes, until it nearly killed her. Well, actually, smoking did kill her, she died from complications of COPD last year. Thank goodness my husband (her baby brother) never took up the habit.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your pictorial review, it brought a smile to my otherwise too busy day.

    I hope the advice to take up smoking happened a looooong time ago.

  29. Rahul

    Wow…..I’m still kind of shocked about the beer and 7up to children Ads and they sound so convincing (someone ignorant enough could definitely buy those ads 😛 ) I also find that cigarette Ad to be quite creative in their message..instead of saying its good or bad for you, just say that its the number one choice of the people who take care of your health. Since they are trained professionals in taking care of our health (our beloved doctors) they surely know what’s the best cigerettes to smoke in order to make sure it has the least ill effects on our health 😛 (lets just ignore the fact that those doctors probably don’t care about the effects of cigerrettes on their body 😉 ) Btw thanks for this change of topic, thanks to the humour in these Ads(whether it was intentional or not) its easier to swallow than those previous liptor for kids and dietery guideline articles (I was kinda getting depressed as well reading those :S )

    You’ve got laugh now and then to keep your sanity.

  30. Rahul

    Wow…..I’m still kind of shocked about the beer and 7up to children Ads and they sound so convincing (someone ignorant enough could definitely buy those ads 😛 ) I also find that cigarette Ad to be quite creative in their message..instead of saying its good or bad for you, just say that its the number one choice of the people who take care of your health. Since they are trained professionals in taking care of our health (our beloved doctors) they surely know what’s the best cigerettes to smoke in order to make sure it has the least ill effects on our health 😛 (lets just ignore the fact that those doctors probably don’t care about the effects of cigerrettes on their body 😉 ) Btw thanks for this change of topic, thanks to the humour in these Ads(whether it was intentional or not) its easier to swallow than those previous liptor for kids and dietery guideline articles (I was kinda getting depressed as well reading those :S )

    You’ve got laugh now and then to keep your sanity.

  31. JimS

    “It’s draft-brewed Blatz beer, wherever I go…”

    Loved that discernible malt undertone. But it is a funky name. I guess it died about the same time lard did.

    My grandfather drank Schlitz and let me try a small glass of it when I was 12 or so. Thanks to that experience, I was under the impression beer doesn’t taste good.

  32. JimS

    “It’s draft-brewed Blatz beer, wherever I go…”

    Loved that discernible malt undertone. But it is a funky name. I guess it died about the same time lard did.

    My grandfather drank Schlitz and let me try a small glass of it when I was 12 or so. Thanks to that experience, I was under the impression beer doesn’t taste good.

  33. John Hunter

    Lynne said “efforts toward better health by eating like my always healthy grandparents did (meat, meat fat, low starch/lots of vegees, no crapola, etc) were HORRID because (and I quote, though you have to add her near-shrieking for the true effect), “Food is poison! Food is poison!”

    Didn’t you see the public service anouncement about this?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQFGlBKARos

    That’s hilarious.

  34. John Hunter

    Lynne said “efforts toward better health by eating like my always healthy grandparents did (meat, meat fat, low starch/lots of vegees, no crapola, etc) were HORRID because (and I quote, though you have to add her near-shrieking for the true effect), “Food is poison! Food is poison!”

    Didn’t you see the public service anouncement about this?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQFGlBKARos

    That’s hilarious.

  35. AllenS

    My favorite line from the song “Basketball Jones” is: “Remember, when you’re out of Budweiser, tough Schlitz!”

  36. AllenS

    My favorite line from the song “Basketball Jones” is: “Remember, when you’re out of Budweiser, tough Schlitz!”

  37. Greg

    I just (why I don’t know) caught a minute of the Dr. Oz show and he was talking about the “Five things to toss from your refrigerator” …1-3 were sugar/syrup/white flour, and then #4 was saturated fat. He said “It’s fat from anything four-legged…it’s solid at room temperature, so it’s solid in your body and clogs your arteries.”

    Last time I checked, my body temperature wasn’t 72 degrees. And since it’s carbohydrates that produce saturated fat in the blood, we shouldn’t any carbohydrates that are solid at room temperature.

  38. Greg

    I just (why I don’t know) caught a minute of the Dr. Oz show and he was talking about the “Five things to toss from your refrigerator” …1-3 were sugar/syrup/white flour, and then #4 was saturated fat. He said “It’s fat from anything four-legged…it’s solid at room temperature, so it’s solid in your body and clogs your arteries.”

    Last time I checked, my body temperature wasn’t 72 degrees. And since it’s carbohydrates that produce saturated fat in the blood, we shouldn’t any carbohydrates that are solid at room temperature.

  39. Mark. Gooley

    Yeah, that lard ad is a fake, and to a whole generation it’s so obviously absurd that it’s funny. Actual non-hydrogenated lard is hard to find: lard is popular with Hispanics so it’s increasingly easy to find here, but both Wal-Mart and the small Mexican groceries stock only partly-hydrogenated. The small supermarket in the nearest town (part of the small Hitchcock’s chain) of late stocks non-hydrogenated lard from either of two small open-kettle renderers in Georgia: one adds BHA and BHT, the other doesn’t. Currently they have ten four-pound containers of the no-preservatives lard atop a refrigerated case, and I’m tempted to buy a couple more even though I have plenty at home: I fear that it won’t sell and they’ll drop it. At summer room-temperature — 80F — it’s mostly liquid, nicely bland, just faintly yellowish — and tricky to spoon out of a small plastic bucket. Maybe I should refrigerate it.

    Isn’t it something that we’ve gotten to the point where people think it’s laughable that lard is good for you?

  40. Mark. Gooley

    Yeah, that lard ad is a fake, and to a whole generation it’s so obviously absurd that it’s funny. Actual non-hydrogenated lard is hard to find: lard is popular with Hispanics so it’s increasingly easy to find here, but both Wal-Mart and the small Mexican groceries stock only partly-hydrogenated. The small supermarket in the nearest town (part of the small Hitchcock’s chain) of late stocks non-hydrogenated lard from either of two small open-kettle renderers in Georgia: one adds BHA and BHT, the other doesn’t. Currently they have ten four-pound containers of the no-preservatives lard atop a refrigerated case, and I’m tempted to buy a couple more even though I have plenty at home: I fear that it won’t sell and they’ll drop it. At summer room-temperature — 80F — it’s mostly liquid, nicely bland, just faintly yellowish — and tricky to spoon out of a small plastic bucket. Maybe I should refrigerate it.

    Isn’t it something that we’ve gotten to the point where people think it’s laughable that lard is good for you?

  41. ethyl d

    Maybe this advertising retrospective can inspire us to look more critically at contemporary ads and see through their ridiculous claims. Those old ads made sense and were believable to most of the people seeing them at the time, but looking at them now we can see more clearly how they were designed to sell the product and not necessarily to really help people lead better lives. They also provide insights into the values of an earlier era. People a hundred years from now will be able to look at our culture’s values expressed through our ads and laugh at us, too. And they will have their own blind spots where they are deceiving themselves…ah, la betise humaine….

    We’ve got plenty of ridiculous claims going on these days. When Rice Krispies claims to boost your child’s immune system, that’s ridiculous.

  42. ethyl d

    Maybe this advertising retrospective can inspire us to look more critically at contemporary ads and see through their ridiculous claims. Those old ads made sense and were believable to most of the people seeing them at the time, but looking at them now we can see more clearly how they were designed to sell the product and not necessarily to really help people lead better lives. They also provide insights into the values of an earlier era. People a hundred years from now will be able to look at our culture’s values expressed through our ads and laugh at us, too. And they will have their own blind spots where they are deceiving themselves…ah, la betise humaine….

    We’ve got plenty of ridiculous claims going on these days. When Rice Krispies claims to boost your child’s immune system, that’s ridiculous.

  43. mamaraby

    The beer/breastmilk connection is partially due to the Hops – which is quite bitter. I think I’d pick the beer over the Hops infusion. This part from Katy’s link, though, made me chuckle:
    “It appears prudent not to generally advocate the regular use of alcoholic drinks during lactation but to rather refer mothers to non-alcoholic beer, even though no adverse effects of an occasional alcoholic drink during lactation have been documented.”

    Gotta love the “even though no adverse effects…have been documented” part.

    Prudent not to generally advocate — interesting weasel words. Pregnant women weren’t warned not to drink when I was in the womb, and my mom drank a bit of wine. Fortunately, she’s a lightweight. But I like to tell her if she’d only known better, I coulda been a genius.

  44. mamaraby

    The beer/breastmilk connection is partially due to the Hops – which is quite bitter. I think I’d pick the beer over the Hops infusion. This part from Katy’s link, though, made me chuckle:
    “It appears prudent not to generally advocate the regular use of alcoholic drinks during lactation but to rather refer mothers to non-alcoholic beer, even though no adverse effects of an occasional alcoholic drink during lactation have been documented.”

    Gotta love the “even though no adverse effects…have been documented” part.

    Prudent not to generally advocate — interesting weasel words. Pregnant women weren’t warned not to drink when I was in the womb, and my mom drank a bit of wine. Fortunately, she’s a lightweight. But I like to tell her if she’d only known better, I coulda been a genius.

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