Snack Foods Originally Sold as Medicine

Many of the most familiar snack foods we know from supermarkets around the world began their careers as “medicine,” or foods that offered some sort of health-related cure. Here is a list of the most surprising:

1. Graham Crackers

In 1829 Reverend Sylvester Graham, touted the blandness of these cookies as having a sobering effect on people who tended to engage in “self-abuse.” That claim could’ve made for some interesting clinical trials.

2. Corn Flakes

Will Keith Kellogg created corn flakes as a dietary supplement to be used in hospitals, where they would significantly enhance common, drab institutional diets and improve patients’ digestion.

3. Coca-Cola

This soft drink is now considered extremely unhealthy due to its high levels of sugar. However, Coca Cola was originally marketed as a health tonic by creator John Pemberton, banking on the then-common belief that carbonated beverages increased wellness.

4. Fig Newtons

In 1892 these mini-cakes were introduced to the market as digestive aid for a society that believed that irregular digestion was the cause of many illnesses.

5. Moxie

In 1876, the extremely popular, now-defunct soft drink claimed to have powerful “medicinal”powers thanks to the mysterious extract from a South American plant that it contained, supposedly. It had the power to counteract paralysis, “softening of the brain,”and insomnia, or so they said.

6. Heath Bar

It’s not clear what was so “healthy” about chocolate, butter, sugar and almonds, but this product was advertised by L.S. Heath, starting in 1914, with the slogan, “Heath for better health!”

7. Goo-Goo Clusters

What we now consider pure, unhealthy candy was, during Depression-era America, advertised as a “nourishing lunch for a nickel.”That sounds like a bit of stretch for peanuts covered in marshmallow and chocolate.

8. 7-Up

One of the world’s most popular soft drinks retains its reputation today for being the upset-stomach-reliever it was back when it was first released in 1929, weeks before the Wall Street crash. It was originally called “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda,” because it contained the chemical element lithium, which could indeed affect one’s mood. The later-regulated lithium was removed from the drink’s formula in 1950.

9. McVitie’s Digestive Biscuits

Another cookie originally sold as a digestive aid, introduced in 1892. The idea was that the cookie’s high level of sodium bicarbonate (a.k.a. baking soda) would improve one’s health and digestion. The company has since abandoned that claim as part of their marketing strategy.