Health, Growth and Happiness with 1920s Ralston Porridge


Health, Growth and Happiness for Boys and Girls... That's what this beautifully-illustrated 1926 "Mother's Manual" from Ralston Purina promises. Today, we may think of Ralston Purina predominantly as the makers of Puppy Chows. But back in the 20s, "Ralston" was synonymous with a hot wheat porridge, along the lines of oatmeal or cream of wheat.

And with this booklet, health, growth and happiness for the kiddies takes an unsurprisingly wheatly-based turn!


A third parent... That's what Ralston Purina says it's seting out to be with this booklet...


...If, of course, that third wheel in the relationship didn't view most child-rearing concerns as having a critical, somewhat single-minded wheat cereal solution to them.


Here we learn about the importance of a regular eating schedule... how candy should only be given after meals and not between then... how food should be chewed slowly and not "washed down" by beverages... And how food is "better digested if smiles, prattle and happy laughter are a part of every meal."

Erm... and also Ralston cereal.

Dinner at noon with a light supper at night is best for restful sleep. Remember that Ralston with milk makes a delightful digestible, nourishing supper for boys and girls-- winter and summer.

Oh yes, I bet the kiddies won't say a word about getting a bowl of creamy wheat each evening for supper. Right? (Insert small child whine like Randy's in A Christmas Story.)

But dig these cute illustrations!


Ralston Purina did manage to care for the common cold without adding a wheat porridge poultice or anything. (I'm so proud of them!) Though they managed to get in a "keep bowels open" as an important element in treating the cold. I guess when one end is stopped up, the other should be open. (Naturally, a heaping bowl of Ralston will help with that.)

And I thought you all would find it interesting to see what "common Children's Diseases" they were dealing with during this time frame...


Mumps... Whooping Cough... Measles... And Scarlet Fever... We've come a long way in many respects...

Then, after another poetic tribute to whole wheat porridge, the book shares some cheerful tips for occupying the little people in the household on a rainy day...


"It's so natural for high-spirited little folks to fret a bit when the mean old clouds take the sun away, and the weather's wet and dreary. It's hard for them to understand that now and then a rainy day is just as good for boys and girls as for wheat and corn and oats..."

I bet you can see where we're going with this, right?

Indoor afternoon tea! And what better to have at an afternoon tea than "crisp, brown King Cole Cookies and milk," those cookies made from Ralston porridge!



So what if your kids are having some issues with the concept of eating wheat porridge all the time? Well, Ralston Purina suggests some helpful ways to "Keep Kiddies Smiling"...

Disguise the Ralston porridge by making it into any number of baked goods kids would otherwise enjoy. And then give them storybook character names so the kids won't question why it all tastes like wheat porridge with some raisins in it. Serve 'em King Cole Cookies... Red Riding Hood cup cakes... Or Tommy Tucker bread!

Also Cheese Ralston... Which sounds to me more like what happens to you after you've had too much wheat for supper. Or maybe that's just because I read the recipe for it.

1/4 cup Ralston
2 eggs
1/4 cup grated cheese
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 teaspoon mustard
Cayenne pepper to taste

So, perhaps that's why little Suzie here in the illustration seems to be looking anywhere but actually at the foods on the table...



Could be why she's clutching her throat, too. That Fried Ralston would do it to me!

Ralston Purina goes on to share some helpful tips for better health. Like bathing twice a week... Getting exercise... Flinging wide the windows... And, of course, staying regular.

"Open windows, open pores, open bowels and open minds open the Road to Health."

Naturally, the Road To Health is paved with bowls of the nourishment found in Ralston porridge.

And lastly-- what about those first aid emergencies? Again, we can be proud that our booklet sponsors didn't suggest liberally applying Ralston to wounds. But what they did suggest is a little startling to modern eyes...


Boric acid was the tool of choice for washing foreign objects out of eyes or applying to burns. Interestingly, this can also be mildly toxic if inhaled or ingested, and has been used as pesticides.

For potential poisonings, they recommended inducing vomiting using mustard and warm water.

Funny how the one ingredient added to the Cheese Ralston is the one thing used to make little Timmy purge poison. I'd say there might be a correlation here, but maybe it's best we don't think about that too much.

Well-- that about wraps up the whole grain goodness for today, folks!


And thanks for bearing with me last week where my posting schedule was all out of whack. I hope you all had a super holiday weekend.

5 comments:

chyna said...

It is interesting and horrifying what they used back then for good health. Bleach comes to mind for "female cleanliness". Nothing better than personal hygene with chemicals under your kitchen sink. eeeeeekkkkk!!!!!

Jenn Thorson said...

Chyna- WHOA! Bleach? I did not know that one! Yipes!

aimee said...

Hi Jenn - have been reading your blog for awhile now, but this is my first comment. Had to respond because of the mustard/water antidote reference.

You see, I had some exposure to that "cure" as an 18-month-old toddler in 1961. Apparently I'd gotten into my dad's pipe-cleaning fluid and my mom feared the worst. She immediately called our family doctor, who told her to mix up a concoction of mustard and milk and have me drink it. He explained that I would hate the taste and that I would fight her about drinking it, but it was necessary to induce vomiting.

So my mom did as the doctor had ordered and and braced herself for a struggle with me. However, not only did I immediately guzzle down the mixture - I held out my glass for more!

I never did vomit that day - and never got sick from the pipe-cleaning fluid either. But to this day, I prefer my food spicy or well-seasoned!

Keep up the good work and the fun posts!

Jenn Thorson said...

Aimee-- I appreciate so much you chiming in! :)

I bet the look on your mother's face, when you drank it down and asked for more was priceless!

Down Comforter said...

That is a great find! My kiddos would love to bathe only twice a week!