One Of The Biggest Con Jobs In Advertising History, Part 2

The Sugar Association — up until the mid-1970s — aggressively advertised sugar as a healthy weight loss and diet aid.

Big Sugar

The Sugar Association was started in 1947, and its PR division, Sugar Information, soon followed.

And over the ensuing years, Big Sugar, through Sugar Information, didn’t just settle for “the treat” sell. They expanded their messaging to include “the energy” sell and “the weight loss” sell, until the FDA put a soft-stop to those ads. (They weren’t outright banned, but Big Sugar stopped them.)

Since the mid-1970s, there has been a significant rise in Americans’ consumption of sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Since 1970, obesity rates in the United States have more than doubled, while the incidence of diabetes has more than tripled.

Big Sugar argues this is a coincidence.

Here is a collection of a few of the more outrageous Sugar Information ads.

Also, please go to to Mother Jones to read a fascinating report on the brilliant maneuverings of Big Sugar PR over the last 35 years.

3. 1950s. Unbelievable.

4. 1958. Evil grapefruit.

5. 1950s. Evil apple.

8. Copy from above ad. Read how insidious it is — a PR master class.

9. Mid-1960s. Hip Beatles copy blurb. “It quenches fatigue.”

10. 1970. Hello ironic headline.

11. 1970. “Only 18 calories…and it’s all energy.”

12. And here’s the most unbelievable headline. Early 1970s.

SWEET JESUS, READ THAT COPY: “There’s a useful psychological effect, too. The good natural sweetness of sugar is like a little reward that promotes a sense of satisfaction and well-being.”
Yes, just look at how happy Snap, Crackle and Pop are.


Mid-20th century Lysol disinfectant — because of the illegality of female contraceptives — was the #1 selling “feminine hygiene” product (13 ads).

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