Sunday, February 24, 2013


I've read that one of the most popular diet fads of the 50's was the cabbage soup diet. I don't remember it, but I don't think any of us were worrying about being overweight back then. It was supposed to cause very rapid weight loss and probably did if you carefully followed directions and returned to eating normally after seven days.

 Problem was, people stayed on it longer and began passing out and in a few instances dying. So, that fad was soon replaced with another....and then another and that's the way diet fads have been marching along with our culture for the last hundred years.

The Atkins diet, the low carb diet, the South Beach diet, the Acai Berry Diet...the list goes on and on.

But in my opinion, none can compare with Fletcherism a dietary fad that swept the nation in 1900. The word even became gerericized...a part of the American language.

Horace Fletcher
 According to its founder, Horace Fletcher, “to enjoy perfect health, chew each bite of food 32 times. (Why 32 times? Once for each tooth in your head.) Chewing parties became popular and were called “muncheons.” Each diner would chew with their heads low over the plate to ensure that their tongues were hanging down and often there would be a “conductor” coordinating the event who would count the chews of each mouthful and would ring a bell when it was time to swallow.

The Heyday of Fletcherism was in the early 1900's and was taken seriously by many people, among them several very  distinguished adherents; it lasted until the 1930s. I think people finally began to suspect that Horace Fletcher might be depriving a village somewhere of its idiot, when he began insisting that they also chew the water they drank.

 Eat somewhat less but eat it more
Would you be hearty beyond fourscore.
Eat not at all in worried mood
Or suffer harm from best of food.
Don’t gobble your food but “Fletcherize”
 Each morsel you eat, if you’d be wise.
Don’t cause your blood pressure e’er to rise
By prizing your menu by its size.

 -Popular poem in 1920

First Man..."I hear that your wife is on a diet".
Second Man..."Yep. A banana diet. All she eats is bananas"
First Man...".O really?  Has she lost weight?"
Second Man..".Nope.  But you ought to see her climb a tree!"