‘Eat! Eat! Eat!’ Those notorious tapeworm diet pills

Sanitized Tape Worms - a spurious 'vintage' ad

Peoria, Illinois, 1912: the horror begins. A society lady, encouraged by a friend’s success with an easy new weight-loss treatment, pays $25 for ‘two rather large and suspicious-looking pills.’ Her husband sends the pills to be analysed by the Washington public health service, and before long a ‘government secret official’ …

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A devil of a cure

One must always be grateful for small mercies. When a giant jazz-hands Satan is trampling amok on your planet of residence, you can at least gain comfort from the fact he has kept his underpants on. This depiction of Old Nick was registered as a trademark in 1915 by the …

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Dr Ralph’s Pills

ADvent Calendar Day 2 Dr Ralph’s Pills and the ‘Ralphian Theory’ appear to have been inspired by the Hygeist principles of James Morison, who introduced Vegetable Universal Pills to Britain in 1825. Joseph Ralph’s system, like that of Morison, comprised two varieties of remedy – the Alterative Purgatives (No. 1) …

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ADvent Calendar 1: The Health Jolting Chair

  Every day until Christmas, The Quack Doctor will be showing a different historical health-related advertisement. First is this brain-refresher and household blessing – the Health Jolting Chair (1885), courtesy of the US National Library of Medicine. . .

A pleasant time and a pleasant tomorrow

  We all have those Facebook friends – you know, the ones who make it clear what a wild, fun and edgy life they lead by announcing that they’re, like, sooooo hungover lol. Well, perhaps their troubles would have been easier to bear in 1955, when a party-pak of Quaff-Aid …

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Live Lizards Found in Girl’s Stomach

CLEVELAND, O., Dec. 23—.Two live lizards three and a half inches long, several smaller ones, and a number of lizard eggs, were taken from the stomach of Lovel Herman, nineteen, four days before she died. A postmortem examination showed that the wall of the stomach had been attacked by the …

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Valentine’s Meat-Juice

  The Quack Doctor is not a hearts and flowers kind of person, so was interested to learn of a dark side to this product’s history. Brought into production in Richmond, VA, in 1871, Valentine’s Meat-Juice became popular with orthodox physicians and was advertised in professional publications, including the British …

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Ali Ahmed’s Treasures of the Desert

Between March 1852 and September 1853, monthly instalments of Bleak House tempted readers with their eyecatching illustrated covers and affordable price of one shilling. Within these covers, the ‘Bleak House Advertiser’ promoted commercial products, from new publications to false teeth and from wigs to bedsteads. Inserted in part fourteen, however, …

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The Voice of the People

Why would you visit The Quack Doctor to read about the famous Beecham’s Pills, when five seconds of Googling will give you more information than you could possibly read in a lifetime? Well, obviously you wouldn’t, so that’s why I’ve never blogged about them. I just wanted to do a …

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A Wife is the Peculiar Gift of Heaven

This advertisement for Eno’s Fruit Salt appeared in the special Royal Wedding Edition of the Penny Illustrated Paper on 8 July 1893. The edition commemorated the nuptials of Prince George, Duke of York and Princess May of Teck – the future King George V and Queen Mary. Click the image to …

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