Each Thursday, your Crap Archivist brings you the finest in forgotten and bewildering crap culled from basements, thrift stores, estate sales and flea markets. I do this for one reason: Knowledge is power.
Keep on the Sunny Side of Life: A New Way of Living
Publisher: Kellogg, Battle Creek, Michigan
Discovered at: Antique mall
“Health itself is the source of sparkling eyes, of a smooth, lovely skin and an engaging personality. Bran helps.” (page 18).
Take a look at that cover. Savor the sunniness, the cheeks flushed with happiness, the way the whole family has put its best foot forward to step into the grandest of futures — and, apparently, a tap number worked. What could lead anyone to feel such joy, especially in the depths of the worst depression this country ever faced?
The first chapter, “Public Enemy Number 1,” explains:
“Are you acquainted with that prevalent enemy of health and well-being, constipation?”
A page later:
“Constipation may undermine beauty and youthfulness. Complexions may take on a sallow, lifeless hue. Eyes may lost their sparkle, become dull and uninteresting.”
In short, for 32 pages, Kellogg’s touts its “New Way of Living”: eat All-Bran and your family will poop sunshine, thereby ending the Depression.
Again, consider that cover. Note the miserable blue streaking out behind the puppy, the only family member not Branned to bursting. Note, also, the faces of the damned suffering behind him. It takes more than moral fiber to live the American dream.
While this all may seem silly, the joys of continence remain a popular marketing technique to this day.
Of course, Kelloggs promised much more of its All-Bran than the Kashi company does of its twigs-and-packing-puffs bowel-movers. According to Keep on the Sunny Side, your regularity warrants nothing less than a parade.
Actually, mom is standing because she’s just given that passenger seat a jolly soiling. Dad, meanwhile, volunteers his fedora to anyone with the good fortune to be facing an emergency. As for the girl and the dog: well, my sense of decency demands I make no comment.
This jubilation might seem strange today, but in the newly industrialized early twentieth century, work stoppages weren’t limited to the factories. Even hard-working American bowels tended to shut down.
Here’s how Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the source of all things corn-flakey, put it in Colon Hygiene, his landmark 1915 study of “that most despised and neglected portion of the body”:
“In general, it must be said that the causes of constipation are abnormal habits or conditions of life, the result of what we call civilization. Savages rarely suffer from constipation, which is also true of the more primitive of the so-called civilized nations. Chronic intestinal inactivity is much less prevalent among country people than among those living in a city.”
Fascinating! Someone at Politico should look into whether red states outpace the blues in plunger sales.
Dr. Kellogg claims that modernity encouraged a sedentary lifestyle, which resulted in irregularity, especially among American women, four-fifths of women suffered from constipation. He blames this on hasty eating, “excessive mastication,” use of condiments, “incorrect breathing,” “uncorrect posture in defecation,” tea and coffee, and our prim refusal to go when we need to go:
“The prompt evacuation of the bowels in response to Nature’s ‘call’ is a sacred obligation which no person can neglect without injury.”
Dr. Kellogg himself had little to do with the famous cereal company found by his brother Will Keith Kellogg, but the primary recommendation in Keep on the Sunny Side is identical to Colon Hygiene‘s: eat more “bulk.”
Honestly, for all the exaggeration from both Kelloggs, I can’t really argue with their conclusion. I mean, scarfing a bowl of Mini-Wheats is much more convenient for me than devolving to a state of savagery each morning.
That said, while your Crap Archivist appreciates Kellogg’s efforts at unsticking the national colon, I heartily disapprove of Keep on the Sunny Side of Life‘s more outrageous claims.
Wouldn’t that make the beauty parlor the w.c.?
My first draft of the above included a terrible stretch of a joke involving Jigsaw, the torture clown from the mall-snuff film series Saw.
Googling “Jigsaw the clown” for a photo, I came across this kiddie costume from a British party shop.
It’s actually called “Jigsaw Clown.”
Imagine begging your parents for an awesome evil-clown costume and then having to schlep off to fifth grade in this merry number. Does bran help when you’re scared shitless?
[The Crap Archivist lives in Kansas City, where he originates his on-line Studies for the Voice‘s sister paper, The Pitch.]
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