Modern advertising constantly straddles the line between creative marketing and straight-up bullshit. But back in the old days, advertising companies got away with winning their bread and butter through straight poker-faced lies.
#16. Almost All Women are Poisonous
From the Questionable Statistics Department comes this ad depicting an assembly line of identical blondes who have to cross their legs at the ankles to keep their nether regions from exploding like angry beehives. The ad's vision of "procurable women" looks more like a store shelf of Barbie dolls, or the inside of a serial killer's eyelids when asked to picture "procurable women."
The real question is what they were even trying to accomplish here. Did they want to eradicate sex altogether? Were the Nazis trying to infiltrate the U.S. Navy with an army of gonorrhea-infected Stepford clones? Or was this a very specific piece of propaganda aimed at the three young sailors who would go on to star in the "Pep Boys" logo?
Our money's on Option 3.
#15. Samaria Cures the Drink Curse
Via Kitchen Retro
The real miracle here is not just that the husband was cured of alcoholism, but that he was cured without his knowledge. Apparently, it was months before he noticed that he was no longer hanging out with his drinking buddies at the bar after work, drinking to dull the pain, and that he'd stopped throwing up bloody chunks of his own liver each morning.
This highly scientific ad promises that the man in the turban and his faux-Arabic pills will cure your husband's "drinking curse." If Samaria doesn't work, at least sneaking around and secretly dosing his drink will give you the practice you need to make your husband's incurable drinking problem goes away forever.
#14. Weight-Loss Soap
You might be tempted to laugh about how childlike and naive people of the 1920s must have been to fall for a scam as ridiculous as "La-Mar Fat Reducing Soap." It's less funny when you think about how huge the market is today for penis-enlarging lotions.
#13. Pepsi Makes You Thin and Beautiful
"One look at this modern hostess' silhouette and you can just about guess the kind of thing she keeps in that refrigerator."
It's meth, right?
Oh, no, it's Pepsi. The diet of choice for snake-necked, oddly angular 1950s women. Though since the active ingredient in Coca-Cola used to be cocaine, who knows what their rivals were using? (We do. We're saying it's meth.)
#12. DDT Wallpaper
From the company that brought you asbestos teething toys, it's Trimz DDT children's wallpaper! Because it's totally intuitive that the best way to protect your children from insects is to fill their room with a powerful insecticide. Just make sure they don't lick the walls.
#11. Chesterfield Cigarettes: Good for Your Throat
According to the charming man in the ad, a "medical specialist" surveyed a group of Chesterfield smokers and found they had no problems with their throats, noses or mouths. Medical specialists were probably thrilled to learn that Chesterfield would be pairing their endorsement with an announcement of the "first and only" super-sized cigarette. Because if smokers of regular Chesterfields show no adverse effects, smokers of king-size probably develop super powers.
Still, it's not the most dubious claim they've ever made about cigarettes. That award goes to ...
#10. Dr. Batty's Cigarettes Cure Everything
This ad, straight out of Contraryville, Opposite County, United States of Bullshit, advises cigarettes as a treatment for asthma, lung irritations and bad breath. Also, we suppose, they whiten teeth and make your wallet heavier, and if you smoke them for 40 years, they have been known to cure cancer.
#9. JouJou Breast Supporter/Slicer
The JouJou Breast Supporter is a futuristic device that finally gives women relief from those swollen, painful meat sacks growing out of their freak chests. Don't be fooled by the fact that it looks like a totally ordinary bra. Not only does it relieve the pain of nature's mistakes, but it also cures cancer, as well as ... wait, what?
#8. Your Nerves Crave Ovaltine
Via Kitchen Retro
Here we were thinking that anxiety was a serious mental condition, but this old advertisement is here to set us straight -- nervousness is actually a sign of acute Ovaltine deficiency.
Ovaltine is portrayed here not only as a cure for insomnia (a bold claim for a caffeinated drink) but as a downright miracle potion, "supremely rich in nerve-restoring nourishment." So sleep soundly, stupid old-timey housewife. There's no army of rapists trying to break into your house, you just need to get back into the kitchen and fix yourself a malted milk.