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August 12, 2022

“Makes Children As Fat As Pigs” – Vintage Ads for Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic

These disturbing pictures of a pig with the head of a child actually promote a prescription for fever and chills caused by malaria. In 1878, Edwin Wiley Grove came up with a fever-remedy made from quinine but suspended in flavored syrup, so it doesn’t taste bitter.

Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic quickly became a household name and necessity from between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, the product has an unnerving logo and slogan that would unlikely be found appealing in advertising today. Although at the time, obesity wasn’t an issue and E.W. Grove who grew up poor probably thought he could express the fortune he made with the production of a tasteless tonic for fever and chills with the picture of a fat pig. Also, it was believed that once treated for malaria, children and adults can become “as fat as pigs.”

Taken as directed, the tonic was equally good for adults and children. Acute attacks of malaria required two tablespoonfuls, three times a day. For control of recurrent attacks, two tablespoonfuls, morning and evening, were to be taken for a period of eight weeks or during the entire malarial season.

From the bottom of the box: “An excellent remedy for Coughs and Colds. Relieves the Cough and also the feverish conditions and Headache, which are usually associated with colds. The second or third dose will move the bowels well within 8 or 10 hours, when the cold will be relieved….”


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