Ad for Sugar in 1966 Issue of Time

1966 ad for sugar in Time magazine

1966 ad for sugar in Time magazine


About 13 years ago, I photocopied this ad from a 1966 issue of Time magazine. I was in grad school doing some research, I think on the Vietnam war, and couldn’t help but notice it. It’s almost as over the top as the old Saturday Night Live fake ad for speed. I thought I lost the photocopy years ago, but found it in a box in my basement the other day.

The image they’re going for with Mary is interesting – it looks like half her outfit is a school uniform, and then the baggy sweater and beads are hip but still fairly conservative.

If you can’t make out the “Note to Mothers” at the bottom, it says:

Note to Mothers: Exhaustion may be dangerous – especially to children who haven’t learned to avoid it by pacing themselves. Exhaustion opens the door a little wider to the bugs and ailments that are always lying in wait. Sugar puts back energy fast – offsets exhaustion. Synthetic sweeteners put back nothing. Energy is the first requirement of life. Play safe with your young ones – make sure they get sugar every day.

What makes this especially insidious is that it’s the exact opposite of the truth:

Studies have shown that downing 75 to 100 grams of a sugar solution (about 20 teaspoons of sugar, or the amount that is contained in two average 12-ounce sodas) can suppress the body’s immune responses. Simple sugars, including glucose, table sugar, fructose, and honey caused a fifty- percent drop in the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria…[and] can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by 40 percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours.

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