Vintage Weight-GAIN Advertisements

22nd April 2009

Vintage Weight-GAIN Advertisements

posted in Diets, Personal |

I’ve been adding to my collection of vintage advertisements and stumbled across these in various places.  It’s not often — okay, ever — that you see an ad for a weight-gain product.  What surprises me isn’t that women of all sizes have been historically made to feel ashamed of their bodies, but rather the fact that these products were still being hawked through the 1970s — I have a cookbook from 1980 in which obesity is already being labeled public enemy number #1.  To give some additional perspective, Americans began dieting in earnest around 1900 and haven’t stopped since.

The ads below are all undated, but I can tell the general decade by the graphics and illustrations.  Click on each image to see a higher-res version.  I’ve got lots more fun ads to post in the coming weeks and all will be added to this vintage ad photo gallery I’m envisioning but have yet to complete.  As soon as I get through this last graduate paper and oral exams, I’ll get on it, I promise.  That is… if I survive.

(1893 — thanks, Shelley!)

Groves Tasteless Chill Tonic — Makes Children as Fat as Pigs — Is just as good for adults.


Get Fat on Lorings Fat-Ten-U and Corpula Foods

(1930s – early-1940s)

Skinny Girls Are Not Glamour Girls — How to Add Glamorous Curves to Your Figure.

If you are a normal healthy underweight person and are ashamed of our skinny, scrawny figure, NUMAL may help you add pounds and pounds of firm, attractive flesh to your figure.

…So don’t let them snicker at your skinny, scrawny figure.  A skinny, scrawny figure is neither fashionable nor glamorous.  Remember, the girls with the glamorous curves get the dates.


It’s hard to believe they once called me SKINNY!
Thousands are quickly gaining 5 – 15 lbs. this new, easy way.
Don’t think you’re “born” to be skinny and friendless.  Thousands with this new easy treatment have gained attractive pounds — in just a few weeks.


This is How I Trapped My Man!

(1940s – 1950s)

Girls with “Naturally Skinny” Figures

…Amazed at this entirely new way to add 5lbs. of solid flesh in 1 week… or no cost!

THOUSANDS of thin, pale, rundown folks and even “Naturally Skinny” men and women are amazed at this new, easy way to put on healthy needed pounds quickly. Gains of 15 to 20 lbs. in one month 5 lbs. in one week are reported regularly.

…Try Kelp-a-Malt for a single week and notice the difference how much better you sleep, how firm flesh appears in place of scrawny hollows” and the new energy and strength it brings you! Prescribed and used by physicians, Kelp-a-Malt is fine for children, too,  improves their appetities. Remember the name, Kelp-a-Malt, the original and genuine kelp and malt tablets. There is nothing else like them, so don’t accept imitations and substitutes. Try Kelp-a-Malt today, and if you don’t gain at least 5 lbs. of good, firm flesh in 1 week, the trial is free.

(late 1940s to mid-1950s)

A SKINNY Man Hasn’t a Chance.  I Wish I Could Gain Flesh

New Easy Way Adds 5 – 15 lbs. — Quick!

(1960s – 1970s)

Goodbye to shapeless, bony, flat, sagging buns with Super Shaper Buns Briefs.

Exclusively Designed Men’s Padded Briefs… Give You

The only men’s undergarment that can make these claims!
- Fills out your rear end without fattening diets
- Lifts, firms, and shapes your buttocks without exercises.
- Flattens your stomach without diet pills

…It’s a known fact that men’s buttocks are the most alluring part of the male anatomy.  Super Shaper Buns Briefs is the One and only undergarment that could give you those “pumped-up” muscular looking buns instantly!  See for yourself… One glance in your mirror will prove that you too can look like a Hollywood Hunk!


If you want to be popular… You can’t afford to be SKINNY!

PUTS POUNDS AND INCHES OF WELCOME WEIGHT ON SKINNY FIGURES Without Pads, Exercise, Fish Oils or Dangerous Surgery Diets

Maybe you don’t want to be a movie star, but what girl doesn’t want to look like one!  If you’re thin, flat, skinny and underweight due to your eating habits, follow Linda Peck’s advice and take Super Wate-On.  Users report tha tthey gain 5 – 10 – 15 pounds each week.  …So why be skinny?

Click to Bookmark
This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 at 12:57 am and is filed under Diets, Personal. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 38 responses to “Vintage Weight-GAIN Advertisements”

Join the conversation! Post your comment below.

  1. 1 On April 22nd, 2009, Elizabeth said:

    I love that child-pig SO MUCH.

  2. 2 On April 22nd, 2009, Lex said:

    This makes me think…can we never just simply BE. Can’t be skinny, can’t be fat, there is no safe zone. Advertising is the voice of big business and they abuse and brutalize us so so much. Ok, enough ranting.

  3. 3 On April 22nd, 2009, ItsTheWooo said:

    I think worth mentioning the body types they are calling “fat” are actually body types we would call “healthy” and “feminine” today. None of those women are fat.

  4. 4 On April 22nd, 2009, ItsTheWooo said:

    But, yea I agree it is a trip to actually see words like “YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO BE SKINNY” and describing “Fatness” as being a beautiful trait. Granted much of this is just a linguistic difference (in the way a size 16 back in those days is a size 8 today), it still trips the brain up to actually see the words.

  5. 5 On April 22nd, 2009, Isabel said:

    I was going to say something intelligent and then I got to EYE-CATCHING BUTTOCKS INSTANTLY! and now I cannot stop giggling.

  6. 6 On April 22nd, 2009, Hannah said:

    Interesting though that all they promise are 5-15 lbs in extra weight – now, if modern weight-loss ads were that modest about their effects (“It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle: Lose 5 lbs and keep it off!”), maybe the FDA wouldn’t have had to step in…
    Interesting also: These great formulas only cause weight-gain in certain places; it’s like these damn cookies, they go straight to your hips.

  7. 7 On April 22nd, 2009, styleygeek said:

    I really really want a ‘chill tonic’.

    Also, the “skinny man” who “hasn’t a chance” has a bigger problem with his shorts than with his weight, methinks :)

  8. 8 On April 22nd, 2009, TerrGail said:

    I LOVE the men’s underwear that will give them “EYE-CATCHING BUTTOCKS”. I especially LOVE the front snap-in option that is “specially designed and contoured to show off your manhood in the most exciting detail.”

    These ads are fantastic. Thanks so much for sharing and I’m looking forward to future installments!


  9. 9 On April 22nd, 2009, Daisy said:

    These ads are mindblowing and liberating. The Corpula ad, for example, uses words that in today’s English seem so fraught with negativity–”get fat,” “fatten you,” and “corpulent”–and presents them so simply and straightforwardly as a good thing.

    Mind you, it’s also depressing to see that there have always been ads and products designed to make women unhappy about their bodies, unhappy enough to buy Tasteless Chill Tonic.

    I would disagree, however, that one never sees weight-gain ads any more: bodybuilders’ “protein shakes” and supplements all promise to pack on the pounds and bulk–good manly muscle poundage, of course, not evil fat.

  10. 10 On April 22nd, 2009, Jamie said:

    I love how the “eye catching buttocks” add includes a full-frontal short jeans shot with the option for a “spice-it-up endowment pad.”

  11. 11 On April 22nd, 2009, Pegkitty said:

    “Remember the name, Kelp-a-Malt” –
    eeeewww. I may never get it out of my head.


  12. 12 On April 22nd, 2009, Rachel said:

    I would disagree, however, that one never sees weight-gain ads any more: bodybuilders’ “protein shakes” and supplements all promise to pack on the pounds and bulk–good manly muscle poundage, of course, not evil fat.

    You’re right, of course. But, yeah, those ads promise muscle gain, not “5-15 lbs. of attractive flesh”!

  13. 13 On April 22nd, 2009, Rachel said:

    Oh, and who here thinks that a man’s butt is the “most alluring part of the male anatomy”? Sorry, honey. But your ass only looks good in a cute pair of jeans. I also ran across ads for New York bathhouses showing all men from about the same period, so I wonder if this ad was geared towards gay audiences. It’s hard to tell, since I don’t know the publication in which this ad was featured nor when.

  14. 14 On April 22nd, 2009, SteveD said:

    We come in all types. Thanks for the posting, it got a laugh for me!

    I will pass on the Butt Enhancing Underwear.

    Besides that is Girl Thing now.


  15. 15 On April 22nd, 2009, Melissa Pearson said:

    When I was a little girl my we would go to my grandmothers house, and in my mom’s childhood bedroom there were Archie comics and Soap Opera comics from the 1960′s, and they had ads like this in them!

  16. 16 On April 22nd, 2009, Lindsay C said:

    It seems like “skinny” was a short/”nice” way of saying “lacks T & A”.

    Re: a man’s butt – attraction is subjective, and that includes what sort of body parts we tend to find most interesting. One (wo)man’s T is another man’s A.

  17. 17 On April 22nd, 2009, Rachel said:

    Agreed, Lindsay. I don’t think that these women would have been called “fat” even back then. It’s interesting to see how both the word “fat” and “skinny” have both evolved in cultural meaning. It used to be a compliment to be called fat and an insult to be called skinny. The situation is completely reversed today.

  18. 18 On April 22nd, 2009, Mr. Stewardess said:

    A skinny man HASN’T a chance with me — I want that ad on a t-shirt!

  19. 19 On April 22nd, 2009, Catgal said:

    Two words wonderfully put together “Attractive Pounds”. LOVE IT!

  20. 20 On April 22nd, 2009, Kristie said:

    Seems to me that these ads just go to prove that Big Bidness has always had it out for people, women especially, and the tactics of shame have never changed. The rhetoric is the same, even if the adjectives have changed–it’s like Mad Libs, accent on the “mad.” Once business had made women curvy enough (as if women could ever be “enough”), it had to sell them something else. Here comes the weight loss industry.

    And also…”I trapped my man”??? Gah! Ah, the bad old days.

  21. 21 On April 22nd, 2009, Bree said:

    I could care less about butts, LOL! Although I do prefer that men would stop wearing pants three sizes too big for them with the crotch hitting at the knee. That look is not attractive at all!

  22. 22 On April 22nd, 2009, Rachel said:

    A skinny man HASN’T a chance with me — I want that ad on a t-shirt!

    Ha! I never was attracted to tall, skinny guys (think runner’s build) either, so I was surprised when I met my husband, who was tall and so thin you could count his ribs, and fell head over heels. It’s amazing how your responses change when you fall in love with the person, and not what they look like.

  23. 23 On April 22nd, 2009, Rachel said:

    And also…”I trapped my man”??? Gah! Ah, the bad old days.

    Just wait till I post some of the others… Feminine hygiene ads are among the worst. They’re all “My husband left me because of my unsanitary odor and it’s all my fault!” Blegh.

  24. 24 On April 22nd, 2009, Vixen said:

    I am just not grasping what’s funny. (Ok, the buttshortz are pretty funny, but I can afford to laugh ’cause I’m not a guy.) Shaming and scaring the scrawny isn’t any different than shaming and scaring the chubby. I appreciate seeing these, because it’s just one more window letting some always-needed light in on the vicious insanity of the whole damn endless media freakshow. And yeah, it’s a mind-tilt to read positive verbiage about adipose. But considering the context … funny …. eh, not so much.

  25. 25 On April 22nd, 2009, Rachel said:

    I am just not grasping what’s funny.

    I don’t see anyone here really laughing at the ads, other than the butt shorts one and maybe the child-pig illustration, because c’mon.. that is kind of funny. I think most people here recognize that these kinds of body shaming advertisements are harmful for all women, regardless of weight. And if there is any kind of glee to be had from these ads, it’s more along the lines of feeling personally vindicated in seeing just how arbitrary and evolving fashion standards really are, and how constant the pressures for women to conform to them.

  26. 26 On April 22nd, 2009, Rachel_in_WY said:

    The pig-baby is fabulous. And I interpreted the padded briefs as being targeted to gay men too. And ironically, the kelp in Kelp-a-Malt will most likely increase thryoid production, causing you to lose weight.

    FWIW, they still push products to make kids gain weight if you have a skinny-mini like my daughter. Our pediatrician kept encouraging me to give her PediaSure, which is full of crap. She eats a lot and a wide variety of foods, rarely ever gets sick, and is very energetic and on track developmentally, but she’s always well below the chart for “normal” weight. But I think the chart unfairly compares breastfed babies to formula babies, who tend to be fatter because of all the corn syrup, and also, they compare a preemie like mine to fullterm babies, so I think it’s nonsense. When I asked our doctor if she had read the ingredients in PediaSure she said “no” and looked at me blankly. So while they’re babies and toddlers we relentlessly try to fatten them up, only to shame them by the time they hit 1st grade if they haven’t shed all the baby fat. *sigh*

  27. 27 On April 22nd, 2009, Gregory A. Butler said:

    Interestingly, among Arabs, Africans, Latinos and African Americans, there is a widespread belief that women are supposed to be heavyset (the term used by African Americans is “thick”) and that skinniness in women is considered a bad thing.

    I’ve heard that African and Arab immigrants in France actually fatten up their daughters when they become teenagers, so they can grow up to become what they consider more attractive and marriageable young women.

    There have also been studies that say that 70% of African American women are what the diet mongers consider to be “obese”. I also once heard an interview with an African American woman doctor who practices in Harlem who complained about how hard it was for her to fat shame her female patients into dieting (according to the fatophobic doc, many of her women patients told her that if they were to lose significant amounts of weight, their husbands would leave them because they’d be too skinny!)

  28. 28 On April 22nd, 2009, Shelley said:

    The pig add is actually from 1893. The add is dated if you look in the lower right corner. Just thought I’d let you know.

  29. 29 On April 22nd, 2009, Janey said:

    Rachel_in_WY said –

    **So while they’re babies and toddlers we relentlessly try to fatten them up, only to shame them by the time they hit 1st grade if they haven’t shed all the baby fat. *sigh***

    So true. In junior high I was tall (5’8″) and weighed about 110 lbs. My parents gave me an eggnog (alcohol-free, of course) to drink every night, to “build me up.” It worked! By my senior year of high school I was up to 125 (horrors!) and my mother suggested “cutting back a little” – translation, “diet”. Oy.

  30. 30 On April 22nd, 2009, eve said:

    A lot of these adds and products stopped in the 60′s. I used to be very very thin and wanted to take wate on. Most of these started when the body became exposed through fashion and swimsuits and people still had the poor nutritional habits they got from not having enough to eat. When food was less plentiful and cheap like it is now relative to then. When FDR was thinking of starting the draft for WWII and they started asking people to sign up they rejected most of them because of poor health, rickets, TB, poor teeth, but mostly just being underfed their whole lives. If you see pictures of people from the 20′s, 30′s, 40′s they look in much worse health than now. And someone who was 45 looked like a poor 70 year does now. I don’t think these are body shaming. I think they spoke to a real need for people to look better i.e. less poor than others. These adds actually make me sad.

  31. 31 On April 22nd, 2009, Rachel said:

    Thanks, Shelley! It’s even earlier than I thought, but 1893 places right in the timeframe in which fatness was most in vogue in America.

  32. 32 On April 22nd, 2009, Rachel said:

    I don’t think these are body shaming. I think they spoke to a real need for people to look better i.e. less poor than others.

    That’s funny, because none of the ads mention health. What they do mention are: skinny girls aren’t glamorous; skinny girls don’t get dates; a skinny girl is not fashionable; and a skinny girl can never look like a fashion model.

  33. 33 On April 22nd, 2009, Pomme said:

    Thanks for the awesome post!

    I thought that the clothing style in the second one seemed more like c.1900 and was right.It actually says “copyright 1895″ in the lower right corner.=)
    (Yes,I’m quite a fashion history geek.)

  34. 34 On April 22nd, 2009, Rachel said:

    How can you people read print this small?! Thanks, Pomme :)

  35. 35 On April 23rd, 2009, Di said:

    That first one makes me think of Jonathon Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” and will probably haunt my dreams tonight. I also suspect that for the men’s buttock-briefs straight men were not the actual market – old school advertising code fascinates me. This may be from watching WAY too much Mad Men.

  36. 36 On April 23rd, 2009, Rachel2 said:

    Awesome, Rachel! :-)

    It is quite refreshing to see the insanity on BOTH sides of the spectrum, and it gives me a sigh of relief to know that us fat whitey’s were once the desireable figures… Ha ha ha!

  37. 37 On April 24th, 2009, jamboree said:

    See, I think there is a hidden message in these ads — it’s more about a woman’s breast size than her body size. “Firm flesh” “concave hollows” etc.

    It’s always about boobs.

  38. 38 On April 25th, 2009, elizabeth patch said:

    I come from a long line of skinny flat-chested Yankee women, hard scrabble farmers with just enough to eat most winters. My grandmother (born 1912)was determined to fatten us grandchildren all up so we could get a boyfriend (“trap your man!”)… Sadly,in the late 20th Century we all tried to get even thinner to match the newer “fashion standards”. Thanks for posting this visual history lesson.

  • The-F-Word on Twitter

  • Categories

Socialized through Gregarious 42