Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"You're a Bad Mommy!" - - 1941 Fletcher's Castoria print ad

How many things can you find wrong with this old magazine ad? Where to begin...

For some history of Fletcher's Castoria, see also:

- 'Fletcher's Castoria and The Centaur Company'

- 'A Castoria Story' at Forgotten NY: Ads

- A couple more vintage Castoria ads are featured among others of a similar stripe in
'SPANK WHILE YOU SELL: Corporal punishment imagery in print advertising',
appearing at Corpun; The World Corporal Punishment Research website.

ADDENDUM, 8/16/08: It's been very gratifying to see that this post has struck a chord with people, and I'm really enjoying seeing how they run with it. Big thanks to the folks at Boing Boing for posting a link that has steered so many readers here.

Please take a look at the comments for this post!
It's enlightening to see the range of reactions people have had, from amusement ("Laxative Talk is always comedy gold.") to horror, and many recollections of childhood laxative experiences that seem to fall more towards the 'horror' end of that spectrum.

Likewise along those same lines, it's been interesting to see how this piece has been treated by those who have re-posted it on their own blogs and sites.

Of those that I've seen, the most interesting, sensitive and informative discussion has been 'This Photo is the Story of My Life', posted by sex-positive feminist author & lecturer Susie Bright at her blog. Please follow the link to read her comments and those of her readers. Fascinating stuff!


Donna Lethal said...

"Mary spent every Weds of her adult life on the analyst's couch"

Unknown said...

I used to be addicted to this stuff. Tasted liked maple syrup and coca cola. My mom used to have to be very inventive when it came to hiding the castoria...

Zeno said...

"Laxative tantrums"? Those were family problems in the forties? Thank goodness I grew up in the fifties! My mommy never dosed me with stuff like that or "tried to force it down" me. (If only bad mommy had thought to tie little Mary down first, things would have gone much more smoothly!)


Anonymous said...

When would a child ever need a laxitive?

Jaak said...

Where to begin with this ad...

Mom is obsessed with bowel movements.

Mom slaps her daughter for not taking medicine. Seems a bit non-plussed about the tantrum (I just beat her a little, and gee willy, there she goes again!)

Leaves child unattended in house while child is emotionally unstable after a beating that mother gave. Seems troubled by tantrum, but no empathy regarding condition, let alone any emotional state regarding assault. Narcissistic or just psychopathic? Course, it might be drugs. This was the time when Men were Men...and women took valium.

Hey look, a school nurse. Public schools have funding for a nurse? Are you kidding me? Oh, it seems she does a product placement, much like our mechanical soda machines. Of course, what nurse, even corporate bought ones, would provide advice after hours, especially medical advice. Maybe it is viral marketing?

Nurses know so much about children? Many nurses, much like teachers, were not allowed to be married, and single motherhood wasn't popular and was a dismissable offense. It's like going to a roman catholic priest for marital or child rearing advice. You can't make or explain the rules if you don't play the game.

Taste will destroy children's delicate nervous systems. That doesn't explain why McDonald's, and especially Arby's are still in business!!!!!

And the kid is oh so happy! Could be the Senna though which is a stimulant laxative. Why not just give meth and ex-lax? Course, senna also suppresses appetites. And since mommy slaps her daughter around, senna might exasperate any anxiety attacks.

I'm sure mommy can help her by slapping her.

What is even more wrong about this ad is that it actually preys on the insecurities of stay-at-home moms of raising a child and provides them a stimulant laxative that is safe enough for a child...hrm, I wonder how many women tried "diets" with this stuff.

Niko said...

the good ol days!

Jeb said...

That was a rhetorical question, but thanks.

Speaking of "butt thanks", how's about that Castoria! MMM mm!

Anonymous said...

'Constipation tantrum' = 'S**t fit' or maybe 'Lack of s**t fit'!

Thank goodness WWII came along and there more important things to worry about, like getting all those single moms to work building planes, boats and guns of all kind!

Thom said...

Ahh yes... I remember it well.

However my mother's laxative of choice was "chocolate flavored" senecot (late 50s)!

Anonymous said...

Kids need laxatives? I think the over medication bothers me more than the corporal punishment.

Anonymous said...

I guess in the late 50's/early
60's, my parents were acutely interested in my 'BMs' (as they liked to say) and I was giving regular doses of this stuff...I got to LIKE the flavor (like above post stated 'maple/cola-ish)...Hell, since I was all of 6 and HATED vegetables, and my folks were 'meat & potatoe' types, no WONDER the plumbing got a little stuck periodically!!!

morgetron said...

Laxative Talk is always comedy gold.

I'm glad you're learning to share.

Anonymous said...

It's always puzzled me, when I find myself lost in the laxative aisle at the drug store, why some packages boldly proclaim "Not Habit Forming". Maybe this is partly why?!?

Spoony Quine said...

Just think of all the stuff going on today that people will have this reaction to sixty years from now!

MikeF said...

One summer when I was 12, I was staying over at my Aunt's house. Auntie tries to give me some castor oil for a stomach problem but I refused. It tasted awful. Before I knew it, I was laying over aunties lap getting an enema instead. Never refused the castor oil again.

Anonymous said...

I'm in my 70's, so I remember many things from the late 30's through 40's: iodine on cuts with my mom blowing on the cut to ease the pain ( it didn't) taking Fletchers's, no penicillin (wasn't used yet). Mom made sure to keep cuts were very clean, Vicks Vaporub on your chest covered with a safetypinned towel for cough or bronchitis ( you either survived or died) once in the very early I got pneumonia and the little town, doctor where we were , gave Horrible green liquid of course it didn't work. When we got home, to a larger city the Dr. gave me an antibiotic ( penicillin? It was available after the war) it took me forever to get well.
I remember a whole year without eating bananas because they thought it had something to do with catching Polio...I still got polio.
kids were tough back then. Like I said, you either pulled through or died.
Spanking? It never killed you or made you crazy. You learned to behave. Kids today don't have to face any consequences so they're snotty, selfish and have little respect for parents, teachers, etc.

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