A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Monday, March 28, 2011

Once There Was a Time...

when folks worried not about being overweight.  Quite the opposite, it seems. 

Making you and your kids "as fat as pigs" would not be a major selling point today.  But a chubby baby was regarded as a sign of good health.  The advertisement shows that ad-men in the 1880s were ahead of the artists when it came to surrealism.   

Unlike many other turn-of-the-century patent medicines, this one was the true quill.  Bristol-Meyers continued to make it in 1957, after they had bought out Grove's.  It was a suspension of quinine in sugar syrup for the treatment of malarial chills.  In the 1880s, malaria was still a big problem in the South, not because malaria is a warm-weather disease, but because the South had a lot more mosquito breeding areas, esp. after the spring floods.  (I am told that the largest cause of death in building the Trans-Canadian Railway was also malaria.) 

But quinine was a very bitter taste, until Grove found a way to suspend it in crystalline form in a sugar or lemon flavored syrup.  It did not entirely mask the taste, but was good enough that it sold more bottles than Coca Cola. 

So "tasteless" chill tonic, which at first makes no sense and which in context of the pig-boy art suggests an analogous meaning of "tasteless" actually means exactly what it says: a tonic lacking the bitter taste of quinine for use against malarial chills. 

As mosquito control programs spread, and the TVA dams controlled the spring flooding, malaria and its chills became less a problem and sales dropped. 

For a passel more of "surrealist ads," go here

But some of the others don't strike me as very surreal. 
I don't think they'd let you do the baby-razor ad today, either.  No stropping, no honing!  Most people might not even know what that meant. 

1 comment:

  1. I'm reminded of the ads for weight-gaining programs in a parody of The National Enquirer. (You too can be fat as a hog!)


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