The weight loss quacks of East 22nd Street

Tucked away on a side street near then-fashionable Madison Square Park was the “United States Medical Dispensary,” a shady-sounding outfit that sold diet advice through ads in magazines at the turn of the last century.

I like the part about readers of this ad being afraid “the remedy is worse than the disease.” What could the treatment have been—tapeworms? 


Looks like the city’s obsession with thinness and weight loss didn’t get its start with amphetamine-popping Upper East Side ladies in the 1960s or during the heroin chic days of the ’90s. New York has worshipped skinny people for at least a century.


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3 Responses to “The weight loss quacks of East 22nd Street”

  1. adam jasper Says:


    kudos to you for actually scanning that picture: it’s huge, so it looks like you found an original.

    I’m actually looking for a hi-res version of a related image. It looks like this:

    I’m curious as to whether you’ve seen it, and if you might know where I could find it.

    best regards

    Adam Jasper

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    That’s a great image, but no, I’ve never seen it before. Perhaps a reader knows where you can find it.

  3. Juliet Bittencourt Says:

    I looked up the name of the book, “Obesity: Its cause and cure” and it’s written by Theodore Griffin 1868.

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