“Gee. Look At That Pair Of Skinny Scarecrows. Why Don’t They Try Sargol?”
Early 20th Century Advertising
Our thin conscious society today might be a good market for this product, except for the fact that the United States is the fattest country in the world, so we don’t need any help in putting on weight.
The usual cause for being too thin in the early 20th century was poverty and disease, not bad eating habits. People suffering from tuberculosis, diabetes, malassimilation of food, chronic diarrhea, Bright’s Disease and other malady’s were prime candidates to use Sargol. And since hundreds of thousands of people were concerned about being underweight they looked anywhere they could for cures. Sargol promised them the hope that they could put on weight.
But as with most ads of this nature, the Sargol Company was selling quackery.
Sargol started their business in 1908 and teamed up with Parke, Davis & Co. to manufacture their fat pills. Sargol was sold primarily through mail order to the public by taking out hundreds of ads in newspapers, magazines and almanacs to push their nostrum. The ingredients in their “miracle” drug was nothing more than saw palmetto; calcium; sodium; potassium; lecithin and nux vomica.
Sargol’s scam netted them over $3 million before the government fined them $30,000 in 1917 after a thirteen week trial and shut them down for good.