One of the historical blights on the soda fountain was the cure all patent medicines that were hocked for every know illness. Some were marketed as health supplements, while others were cures for specific ailments. The one common thread they all shared was their spurious health claims. This didn't go unnoticed and many publications from the period made barbed statements about the nature of the practice.
Some of the illustrations are still relevant today, especially "The Endless Search" with the ghost of Ponce de Leon standing over the shoulder of a old man who is reaching for a tonic saying: "They laugh at me, but they still keep it up!".
Old man reaching for a bottle of "Glycero-Phosphate of Sodium," a patent medicine that apparently restores youthfulness to aged people. The spirit of Juan Ponce de León stands in the background, laughing.
"Prof. Scarem" presenting his latest findings on microbes to a crowd of frightened onlookers, and "Dr. Fakem" selling the latest protection against microbes to a crowd of eager consumers. "Scarem" and "Fakem" a
The 7 Ages of Dope
The many items that were conidered unhealthy, circa 1871
The political parallel of patent medicine
The theatrical aspect of the health supplement world.