Vintage Advice: Here’s How to Be Healthy

Here’s How to Be Healthy
Bengamin Gayelord Hauser
Tempo Books, Inc. 1934

Poor complexion? Lethargy? Slow stomach? Indigestion? Weight loss or gain?
(cue the trumpets…) Never fear, Gayelord Hauser is here!

Most vintage recipe or health books and pamphlets seem to be thinly (or not at all) disguised advertisements. I was surprised to find the first mention of a brand name on page 27, a suggestion to use a Health-Mine Juice Extractor. Although he was a partner in its manufacture, the author seems to be more than just a brand mouthpiece. Gaylord Hauser believed a vitamin-rich diet cured his tuberculosis of the hip and he made it his life’s work to learn about and spread the word about naturopathy. Hauser was popular with celebrities and became close friends with Greta Garbo and advised many others including Marlene Dietrich, Wallis Simpson, Gloria Swanson, Grace Kelly, and Ingrid Bergmann. Earth Kitt even gave him a nod in the song Monotonous: “Gayelord Hauser sends me vitamin D…”

a vitasphere juicer, circa 1938

a vitasphere juicer, circa 1938

Hauser published nineteen self-help and nutrition books. Some people dismissed him as a quack, but the advice he gave seems to hold up. It’s mostly in line with today’s popular diet recommendations: avoid sugar and white flour and eat many fruits and vegetables without too much handling/heat/modification.

In the spirit of taking vintage advice seriously, I decided to try a few of the recipes. First up: Celery cocktail. It didn’t taste bad at all (though I’d stop short of “delicious”) and was pretty refreshing, as promised.

celery cocktail: fights indigestion, sour stomach, and rheumatism

fights indigestion, sour stomach, and rheumatism

Next: Iron cocktail. This one I feared the most. It didn’t taste bad, but it did taste “good for you.” Not something I’d ever look forward to, though I could easily get it down.

spinach, parsley & orange juice. good for anemia and all-around health.

spinach, parsley & orange juice. good for anemia and all-around health.

Lastly, Beet Cocktail. Beautiful. Tasted like earth, even though the beets were well-scrubbed. I found it more than palatable, my husband actually liked it. It definitely seemed vitamin-rich. (Also, my kitchen looked like a crime scene until I cleaned this one up.)

isn't it pretty? beets + pineapple, good for driving out acids

isn’t it pretty? beets + pineapple, drives out acids

After three rounds of chopping vegetables and cleaning the numerous pieces of my modern juicer, my verdict: these health cocktails tasted much better than I expected. I buy the logic about eating fruits and vegetables that are relatively unmolested by heat and additional ingredients. That said, a few of Hauser’s promises seem hyperbolic…

  • “The carrot cocktail, if faithfully imbibed, is warranted to produce that schoolgirl complexion.”
  • “This party cocktail is a specific against gloom and depression.”
  • Regarding another book he wrote called Child Feeding: “If [these] methods are followed, a child has a far greater chance of growing into splendid manhood or womanhood.” (Editorial pause to let that sink in.)

The back of the book features an add for another Hauser piece, Keener Vision Without Glasses. The blurb suggests good diet and “Eye Gymnastiques” will free people from “…unsightly spectacles– eye crutches!” The horror!

I found this mostly reasonable little advice book quite entertaining. And though I am out of patience for juicing today, I would love to think that drinking carrot cocktail might give me a school girl complexion. We shall see. For now, I leave you with another tasty treat, the fabulous Eartha Kitt, who is definitely not monotonous.

A little bit about the Legend…

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One Response to Vintage Advice: Here’s How to Be Healthy

  1. Lisa Wheeler says:

    Oh, how I wish I had been there to taste test! Sounds like a combination of Martha Stewart meets Frankenstein.

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