Weight Loss Chewing Gum: 3 Insane Old-Timey Comic Book Ads

Advertisements in old-school comic books were a perfect mixture of crazy and irresponsible.  For instance, they would routinely try to convince kids to sell salve in exchange for a rifle, and most kids would sign up before even asking what “salve” was.  Adults’ reluctance to buy salve from a ten-year-old is the only reason every town in the forties wasn’t overrun by armed child gangs.  With that in mind, here are three of the craziest comic book advertisements from that era.

1. Kelpidine Chewing Gum

comicads_chewinggum(Click here to view full-size in a new window.)

It would be easy to laugh at anyone who bought weight loss gum from a comic book, but things were different in the forties.  Dieting for men meant replacing one of your steaks at breakfast with a second glass of scotch.  Women who wanted to get a head start on losing weight before the baby came were prescribed two packs of Lucky Strikes a day. My point is, I don’t know if this “Dr. Phillips” is a real M.D. who thought the overweight weren’t chewing enough Juicy Fruit or if they just made him up to sell kelp gum to stupid people, but neither one would surprise me.

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The ballsiest part of this ad is how they casually mention that you still have to eat “balanced meals” to lose any weight.  Listen, American Healthaids Company, if I had the willpower to stop eating Pizza Rolls and Spam for dinner every night I wouldn’t be shelling out two 1940s dollars for fucking gum.  You can’t tell me I have to go on a diet for your product to work and then pretend you helped me.  You could replace “eat right and chew our gum” with “eat right and go fuck yourself” and I would lose exactly as much weight either way.

2. Fun Balloons

comicads_balloons1(Click here to view full-size in a new window.)

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It’s sort of shitty to to take out an ad for “FUN BALLOONS!” and then admit you’re just trying to get rid of some old weather equipment, but some comic book ads were only concerned with selling unwanted merchandise by fucking with kids. If your company bought 40,000 human toenail clippings, you’d immediately take out an ad reading “AMAZING TINY BOOMERANGS!  THEY ALMOST NEVER COME BACK WHEN YOU THROW THEM!  INCREDIBLE!”

But selling balloons that are so large they’re basically a burden isn’t the worst part of this ad.  No, that would be the cartoon mascot with the unnerving smile who’s almost certainly a serial killer.

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Just look at this creep.  If you’re trying to decide whether he wants to fuck you or kill you, the answer is “yes.”  This is a man who knows all the quickest ways to murder a person with a balloon but still insists on using the slowest.   The ad says the balloons aren’t returnable “for reasons of sanitation,” but that’s just code for “if you’re at all like the sick fuck in our ad here, we know you’re just filling these things with hitchhikers’ blood.”  I don’t think anyone at Superior Sales even drew this guy—his image just appears wherever balloons and evil converge.

3. Superform Belt

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(Click here to view full-size in a new window.)

Superform Belt Co. was looking for a very specific audience with this story: men whose families are falling the fuck apart.  At just seven panels in length, it’s the most heart-breakingly efficient story of domestic shame and denial you’ll ever read.

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The madness begins with the very first frame, where we find out that Jim and Jane’s son, Joe, has some serious anger issues.  “That big Jones boy” calls Joe’s portly dad “the blimp man,” and that’s all it takes for Joe to start a fight that he badly loses.  I’m guessing this Jones kid was the winner of a bet between the other neighborhood boys about the most minor insult that would set this little psychopath off.  Other contenders included “That shirt isn’t as cool as the one you wore yesterday!” and “Your mom is attractive, but I respect her too much as a person to call her ‘hot’!”

As Joe’s parents, obviously Jim and Jane are going to sit down and discuss what they should do about his out-of-control behavior, right?

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No!  This fucking lunatic of a mother agrees with her son’s bully that her husband is too fat!  It’s insane!  Jane is so passive-aggressively shitty toward Jim that it’s no wonder their son took a swing at the first kid who insulted his dad.  If Jane were alive today, she’d change her Facebook relationship status to “It’s Complicated” every time Jim didn’t take her out to eat.  The next four frames of this ad should’ve been Jim reviewing the terms of his prenup.  Instead, he immediately screams that he’s going to get his old body back and then absolutely doesn’t.

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I wasn’t kidding about how he doesn’t get his old body back.  Jim doesn’t actually diet or exercise or make any effort to get into better shape, not even with Kelpidine Chewing Gum.  He just shoves his famously blimp-like gut into a girdle, lets out an uncomfortable “UH!  UHM!”, and marvels at all the money he’s saving by ignoring both his weight problem and his toxic marriage.

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In the final story frame of this ad, we get to witness the fruits of Jane’s emotional manipulation.  Jane knows that Jim is killing himself by squishing his internal organs together for her approval, but that won’t stop her from accepting her friend’s compliments about his youthful physique.  And they still haven’t done a goddamned thing about Joe’s temper issues!  He looks happy now, but what’s he going to do the first time some kid points out that his dad wears a corset?  This family has so many problems and they didn’t solve a single one, but at least now Jane isn’t embarrassed to parade her husband in front of her friends like some kind of show pony!  Thanks, Superform!

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