In a Sow’s Ear
I’m always semi-awestruck by the snake-oil advertisements peppering newspapers, magazines, billboards, catalogs and probably places I don’t know about. In the early frontier days, “medicine men” traveled via horse drawn wagons to sell lotions, potions and notions to gullible folk. Hustlers, healers and health evangelists traveled around healing the sick, the sad and the sorry of every imaginable ailment, condition, situation or the pain of the lovelorn.
In 1878, you could purchase a product called ANTI-FAT ” The Great Remedy for Corpulence. Beneath an engraving of an obese woman, the blurb read “ALLAN’S ANTI-FAT is composed of purely vegetable ingredients, and is perfectly harmless. It acts upon the food in the stomach, preventing it from being converted into fat. Taken in accordance with directions, it will reduce a fat person from two to five pounds per week.”
The brags continue with, “…improved appearance and vigorous and healthy feeling. It is an unsurpassed blood purifier and has been found especially efficacious in curing Rheumatism.” And then, of course there are passionate affidavits to support the claims.
As the feller says, things ain’t changed all that much. The following is in response to a full size advertisement in last week’s regional newspaper.
A major weight loss breakthrough!
The commercial poster said,
A veggie with a Latin name
developed by a guy named Fred.
The veggies look like a mutant
that Harry Potter might find feeding
At the bottom of a murky swamp;
they look as if they’re breeding.
Fred named the slimy creatures
A Latin term for when you miss
a calf with your riata
Fred mashed the veggie into pulp
and into capsules squeezed it;
He named the stuff BlubberOff
and claims to make you fit.
Just send ten dollars to Friendly Fred
and he will send you back,
A month’s supply of BlubberOff
that will take away your fat.
It’ll reduce your hips, your thighs, your belly
and take off fifty years;
You’ll grow lean as a post,
(and without exercising, my dear).
BlubberOff has been “clinically tested”
by twenty six people at least.
Only ten dollars, cheap at the price,
to keep Fred’s palm greased.
Between you and me and the fly on the wall,
and I say this with respect,
Who in the world would buy that junk,
it’s just a scam by heck.
So here’s my suggestion, don’t be a sucker,
don’t let yourself be led;
Cut out the ad and spend a stamp
and mail the ad back to Fred.
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From June through September, John Etchart spends most of the day driving a tractor through hayfields below the mountains near Meeker in northwestern Colorado.