I’m presenting a show on Radio 4 this Easter Monday at 8pm (24th March) looking at the history of miracle nutrition cures, woven in with the history of genuine research into food and nutrition. I think it’s quite good fun, although hearing a trailer last night – where the man from radio 4 speaks a phrase which I wrote, but in his funny radio 4 voice – was a bit freaky.
The music is advertising for Hadacol, a fabulous snake oil cure-all which made Senator J Le Blanc a multimillionaire in the 1950s. He held travelling medicine shows, where the entrance fee was paid in Hadacol bottle tops, and where you could see exhibitions on the “History of the Bathing Suit” . Bands would play, and many wrote songs in honour of their patron. I think they’re totally excellent, and so I’ve posted a couple below:
If this floats your boat then there’s a great book by Ann Anderson called “Snake Oil, Hustlers and Hambones”, as well as the weightier (and broader) “Quacks” by Roy Porter. Or if you’re a skinflint you can read The Medical Messiahs by James Harvey Young in its entirety online for free.