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Jun. 29 2010 - 10:15 pm | 921 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

A Tour of Dubious ‘Science’ and Other Strange Claims in Vintage Advertising

Today our tour of vintage advertising is going to cover some unusual/disturbing territory. First, we’re going to review  ”scientific” claims in vintage ads, then we’re going to check out a few ads concerned with your sexual health, followed by a random medley of goodies. (click on the ads for full size)

Behold, the “Dentaphone,” which best I can tell was a mouthpiece device of some sort marketed as a cure for deafness. I like the hook line: “The deaf hear…through their teeth.”

Wow, what a deal!  If you give the wife PEP vitamins, not only will she work harder, but she’ll look cuter too!

How soon is too soon to start your baby on…cola?  ”Laboratory tests” have proven that the earlier you get your bambino sucking down the cola, the happier he’ll be throughout his entire life. You don’t want to deprive him of that, do you?

And if starting cola early results in a toothache for baby, just numb her up with a few cocaine drops!

Getting back to serious science — how would you handle a “truss rupture”?  Nothing I can say will do this ad justice…read it, and hazard a guess as to what “truss torture” is.

There’s something about a giant hand pouring chemicals onto the countryside of India that just doesn’t sit well.

Nothing to add to this one — the picture says it all.

I couldn’t do a vintage ads post without at least one cigarette ad.  In this case, smoking filterless Camels gives the user an “energizing effect.”  That’s right before it gives you the “coughing effect” and the “wheezing effect,” followed by the “dying of lung cancer effect.”

She may “look clean” guys, but…

And you make think she’s “just your gal,” but….

She’s got everything. EVERYTHING.

This projector clearly works best in the shade.

“You can’t afford to be skinny.” This sounds like reverse liposuction in a pill.

Let’s wrap this post up along with the babies, in Cellophane.


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  1. collapse expand

    In the days when these weird ads came out, few would have taken the time to ridicule them, and there was a significant financial incentive not to.

    This is one thing that the Internet has changed forever.

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    About Me

    I’m a freelance writer, blogger and research wonk who writes about science, technology and the cultural ripples of both. Along my winding career route I've been a public outreach specialist, editor, research analyst, proposal writer and part-time journo. When I’m not writing for True/Slant, I’m blogging about neuroscience and a medley of ‘ologies’ at Neuronarrative.com, and writing freelance for Scientific American Mind.

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