The fat loss industry is a multi-billion dollar one. It is rife with fraudulent promises and outright pseudoscience. The advertisement on this page illustrates a fascinating fact. During the 1800’s, the “fattening” industry was just as rife with pseudo-scientific ramblings and fraudulent promises as the fat loss industry is today.
Being thin wasn’t always the “virtue” it as seen as today. A thin person was an unhealthy one. Advertisements like this one promised healthy flesh. Flesh meant fat.
These products were claimed to be “The Greatest Flesh Producing Foods In the World” and would “make the thin plump and comely.”
Like the fat loss advertisements of the day, these products and their ads were targeted at women. In fact, a popular beauty book of the day was Plumpness: How to Acquire It. 1 Although Loring’s Fat-ten-u tablets and Corpula, like all patent-medicine products, made bold claims of healing powers which were even suitable for “invalids,” women were clearly the primary focus of such products.
Loring & Co. was a chain of 3 stores in Boston, Chicago, and New York City.
The following is taken from advertisments run by the company in magazines:
Until recently it was believed that fatty foods taken of in goodly quantities produced flesh. But the fact was overlooked that the very men and women who need fattening food cannot eat fat. A strong aversion to oleaginous food is betrayed by all people who are thin and ill. Their stomachs will not digest it. This is natural, as no one ever waged a successful warfare against nature. Loring’s Corpula and Fat-ten-u make thin people fat, strong and robust, not alone by making new, rick, warm-flowing blood and toning up and invigorating the nervious and alimentary systems, but by creating and appetite for other foods and assiting the processes of digestion. We say “otherfood” because Loring’s Corpula and Fat-ten-u are foods pure and simple, not in any usual sense, medicines. They are platable and can be taken without distress by the most delicate women and the weakest invalids, because the stomach is rlieved of all work of digestion. How is this? Corpula and Fat-ten-u are artificially digested and upon being taken into the stomach are assimilated by the system and become influential in enriching the blood and producing hard, healthy, flesh. A gain of 15 to 20 pounds per month is about the average. These foods are so cheap and so quick in results that the poorest can use them.
- Sivulka, Juliann. Soap, Sex, and Cigarettes: a Cultural History of American Advertising. Wadsworth, 2012.