The regular “This Week in Peterborough” post will happen tomorrow, but to tide you over I give you this wonderful ad, featuring heavyweight champion boxer Jack Dempsey, from the Peterborough Examiner of August 25th, 1919. Read on, for a bit more about it!
I have a passing interest in early medicine advertising, mostly related to finding out what was actually in the concoctions being sold. “Nuxated Iron” pills, as endorsed by Dempsey, were, obviously, iron supplements. As for the “nuxated” part of it, that refers to nux vomica, a deadly substance better known as strychnine (i.e. rat poison). Fortunately, the stuff being hawked in the ad actually contained very little strychnine, and not much iron either. It was comparatively useless as a performance-enhancing drug, but would not kill you unless you took a lot of it.
“Nuxated Iron” pills were endorsed by a number of prominent athletic celebrities of that particular era, including Dempsey, Ty Cobb, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, and of course Pope Benedict XV. You can read a couple of very interesting articles about it here and here, and the first of those links will show you that I was not kidding about the Pope.
We may feel somewhat inclined here to peer down our noses at the gullible consumers of early 20th-century quackery. However, I would note that earlier this afternoon, Mr. Russell Wilson, quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL, tweeted the following:
— Russell Wilson (@DangeRussWilson) August 26, 2015
As far as I can tell, Mr. Wilson is a very nice man who loves his family and does good works in the community. Even so… nanobubbles? Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
‘Til tomorrow, then!