Some Notes on Gayelord Hauser

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Gayelord Hauser (1895-1984) promised to add years to your life with five "wonder foods": skim milk, brewer's yeast, wheat germ, yogurt, and blackstrap molasses. He lectured frequently and in 1925, became a partner in Modern Products, Inc., of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a company that still markets spices, soups, and a few other products bearing his name. Hauser wrote a syndicated newspaper column and more than a dozen books reported to have sold close to fifty million copies in the United States and abroad [1]. He claimed to have been cured of tuberculosis of the hip by eating "36 lemons a day," for one or two weeks [2]. In 1942, Time Magazine reported that he had stopped calling himself an M.D. after the American Medical Association's Bureau of Investigation checked up on his credentials. He then referred to himself as "food scientist."[2]

Hauser had several brushes with the law. In 1934, the FDA acted against his selling Swiss AntiDiabetic Tea and Nu-Links with fraudulent claims. A few years later, his products Slim, Correctol, and Hauser Potassium Broth were seized by the FDA and destroyed by court order because they were misbranded and sold with fraudulent claims. In 1951, copies of his book Look Younger, Live Longer, which led the bestseller list that year, were seized by the FDA on grounds that they were being used to promote sales of blackstrap molasses as a cure-all. The court readily agreed that the molasses was misbranded by many false claims in the book. Among them was a claim that blackstrap molasses could "add 5 years to your life" and "regrow hair on baldspots."

Curiously, perhaps in an apparent attempt to ward of further regulatory action, the 1963 edition of Gayelord Hauser's Treasury of Secrets contained this disclaimer:

This book was not written or published as a labeling device for any product endorsed by Gayelord Hauser. Any attempt by a manufacturer, retailer, or salesman to use this book in conjunction with the sale of any product whatsoever, shall be considered against the wishes of both author and publisher.

Another of Hauser's books, Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, which was a best seller during 1960, suggested that women could achieve beauty by following a "cosmetic diet" that included large amounts of protein and vitamin and mineral supplements. Harvard nutritionist Fredrick J. Stare, M.D., Ph.D. remarked that the book was filled with misstatements, with falsehoods, and with all kinds of errors and implications." [3]

References

  1. Health food advocate Hauser dies at age 89. Los Angeles Times, 1984.
  2. Garbo's Gayelord. Time, Feb 16, 1942.
  3. US Senate Special Committee on Aging. Hearings before the Subcommittee on Frauds and Misrepresentation Affecting the Elderly. 2. Health frauds and quackery. March 9, 1964. Published in 1964 by the U.S. Government Printing Office.

This article was posted on January 13, 2008.

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