Vintage Ad Touts 7-Up as a Beverage for BABIES

by Bettina Elias Siegel on March 1, 2011

I was recently tweeted by Paul Murphy, an anti-obesity advocate in Ontario.  Paul’s Twitter icon is this magazine advertisement from 1955, which made my eyes bug out:

 

 

The ad copy reads:

This young man is 11 months old – and he isn’t our youngest customer by any means.

For 7-Up is so pure, so wholesome, you can even give it to babies and feel good about it.  Look at the back of a 7-Up bottle.  Notice that all our ingredients are listed.  (That isn’t required of soft drinks, you know – but we’re proud to do it and we think you’re pleased that we do.)

By the way, Mom, when it comes to toddlers – if they like to be coaxed to drink their milk, try this:  Add 7-Up to the milk in equal parts, pouring the 7-Up gently into the milk.  It’s a wholesome combination – and it works!  Make 7-Up your family drink.  You like it  . . . it likes you!

While there’s a similar ad floating around the Internet that’s most definitely a fake, I believe this one is legit.  (I found a copy in the Duke University online archive, among other places.)

I’d like to say a lot has changed since this ad came out, but I’m sure I’m not alone in occasionally spotting a toddler with a plastic soda bottle at his or her mouth.  At least soda companies are no longer pitching their drinks to parents as wholesome baby fare.  That’s progress, I guess.

 

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Timmi March 1, 2011 at 11:50 am

I used to work in a restaurant and would see parents giving their babies and children lots of soda and the dreaded blue or red drink (sprite with red cherry syrup or blue raspberry syrup, nice sugar on sugar combo). I would get so frustrated seeing these obese parents and kids eating the way they would! But I think its better than when we used to have a smoking section and people would bring in their kids and smoke and eat away, that s*it really made me mad a$$holes! (I’m sorry if I have offended anyone but I feel better getting that out of the way)

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 2, 2011 at 9:27 am

That’s what we’re here for, TImmi! Deep breath in, deep breath out. :-)

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Renee March 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

I wonder what the ingredients were at that time? Sugar and carbonated water?

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 2, 2011 at 9:26 am

My guess is the same as today, but cane sugar instead of HFCS.

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Lauren March 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Wow. Maybe current marketing to kids isn’t so bad after all..

“Nobody does Type II diabetes like 7-Up!”

Actually, on a serious note, this is actually a serious problem on the reservations in South Dakota. A few years ago, doctors were stunned at the amount of TODDLERS being diagnosed with type II diabetes, so they did some investigating and realized mothers (who couldn’t breast feed because they were alcohol abusers) were pouring soda in their babies’ bottles. It’s cheaper than formula, I think…so I guess that’s another reason why soda shouldn’t be so cheap.. I almost cried when I heard this story.

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Amy March 2, 2011 at 9:07 am

What?? It would never occur to me to feed a child soda from a baby bottle. How about water at least…. isn’t that even cheaper than soda?

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 2, 2011 at 9:24 am

Amy – it sounds like these moms were trying to “feed” their kids, not just alleviate thirst, and maybe they thought sweetened soda was an OK substitute?

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Vanessa March 3, 2011 at 10:19 pm

When my mother’s youngest sister was a year or two old, my grandmother would give her RC Cola in a baby bottle (this was in the early 60s, so not too long after the 7Up ad above). I don’t know if she did it with any of her other kids, but I wouldn’t be surprised. It was at her house, aged four, that I got my first-ever taste of white bread, and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. When my parents picked me up at the end of the evening, Grandma greeted them by saying “Don’t you ever feed this baby? She ate a whole loaf of Wonder Bread!”

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 4, 2011 at 7:47 am

Vanessa – so funny! I used to feel that way about my neighbor’s house, where I got my first taste of the Twinkie. My only thought: How could my mom have been holding out on me???

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jenna Food w/ Kid Appeal March 4, 2011 at 9:02 am

ok, i get the humor in that story. but to me it illustrated just how consumers got on the slippery slope to terrible health. initially, MFGs created products with preservatives to increase shelf life, and profits. These products didn’t taste very good so MFGs started adding bizarre ingredients to traditional recipes, not just higher amounts of sugar and salt, but weirdo “flavorings” to trick tongues and brains into tasting food that wasn’t really there.

MFGs loved it because profits rose
Consumers loved it because they didn’t have to shop for groceries every 1-3 days.
Parents loved it because kids gobbled it up without complaint.

No body thought of the health consequences. No body predicted that eventually products containing shelf stabilizers, chemical flavorings and factory made additives would account for 40-90% (wild guess…) of every human’s diet.

Convenience foods solves so many problems that as a culture we’ve been reluctant to give up the habit, even though now there is a much greater awareness of how destructive processed food is to human health.

If I had fix the food industry problem wand, I would grant 30 billion dollars to create a smaller farmers real produce board. This board would then spend 20 billion dollars over the next decade marketing the health benefits of real food with tv and magazine adds, and a massive PR campaign to report on studies that link real food consumption to wellness, vitality and disease treatment.

Maybe then the world would believe that convenience food is slowing killing them, and real food is the only way to nourish their body and preserve wellness.

wait. did I just draft my slate time to trim response to fixing childhood obesity? that was unintentional…

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 4, 2011 at 4:43 pm

You did indeed, Jenna! Go forth and publish on the Hive! :-)

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jenna Food w/ Kid Appeal March 2, 2011 at 8:25 am

flavored milk, the oldest trick in the book.

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Bettina Elias Siegel March 2, 2011 at 9:25 am

I had the same thought! I also couldn’t help but think of Laverne (of Laverne and Shirley) and her milk-and-Pepsi. Uh oh. Have I just dated myself????

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Mike July 18, 2014 at 10:20 am

The author was wondering if this was a real ad, it is. I know the child that is in the ad.

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Windy August 1, 2014 at 4:15 pm

I’m a relatively new mom- my daughter is a little over two years old- and I am appalled at the toddler food market. I try very hard to give her the cleanest, most organic, natural food we can provide without mortgaging our house in the process. Every time I shop, I am bombarded with these pre-packaged, convenience high-processed foods and it can be rather frustrating. I want to give in to “ease” but not at the risk of her health. I will continue to make the best decisions possible for her and hopefully my choices will influence hers in the best way possible.

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