1913 Ad of the Day — Protone

March 11, 2008, 1:00 am; posted by
Filed under Ads, Humor  | 1 Comment

We’re trying something new here in our second year: replacing the jokes (at least sometimes) with real live (funny) advertisements from 1913! If it’s jokes you want, we have a year’s worth here and here!

Life in 1913 was rough.

Richard Nixon had just been born.

World War I was on the horizon.

And unlike today, nerdy guys like you and me were actually getting pushed around at the beach, in the office, and even inside our own homes.

Just look at that poor guy. Let’s call him Millard. Lines on his face, shoulders slumped, eyebrows bushy and furrowed — without computers and the Internet to rely on for a social life and a source of badly-needed superiority, the desperation and despair is etched on his soul. He needed help. And so he turned — to pseudoscience.


There’s something vaguely Frankenstein-esque about this product. A “remarkable flesh builder,” eager to “prove what it will do”? With a name like PROTONe, I have visions of nano-robots or radioactive mutagen. But then again, this was 1913, when such things were still okay, before the FDA banned everything fun in the name of the Freemasons!

And besides, our friend Millard was desperate.

And lo and behold — the stuff, it works! Two months pass, and he’s had to buy a whole new suit, his nose has lost its hook, and he just can’t keep his hands off himself!

And who could blame him?! Rrrroowwrrr! Millard is smokin’! And probably literally, because everyone did then! Even children!

Perhaps the caption on the comparison picture says it best: “Protone Will Make You Nice and Plump.” There’s a slogan I’d like to see return. Along with their free booklet of “astonishing facts” — “Why You Are Thin.”

You can take a look at the entire advertisement here. Millard’s old legs MUST be seen to be believed.

Note: In a fascinating history of patent medicine, the Animating Apothecary identifies the source of Pantone as Professor James Kellogg, known for sending an extra month’s supply of the product to those who ordered, along with a bill for $5. He later sought a divorce from his fourth wife, but the judge, finding both parties at fault, actually required them to remain married for two more years.


1 Comment to “1913 Ad of the Day — Protone”

  1. Ethan on March 16th, 2008 6:46 pm

    Not to mention, 1913 was the year the Federal Income Tax was legalized… what a year

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