Baking Soda Is Magic

Clendening, Logan, “ Diet and Health.” Kansas City Star Nov. 4 1931. Rpt. In A friend in Need, Facts Worth Knowing About Arm and Hammer Baking Soda as a Proved Medical Agent. By Arm and Hammer Inc. 1933. Print

“A Friend in Need, Facts Worth Knowing About Arm and Hammer Baking Soda as a Proved Medical Agent” is a small booklet displaying a smiling mother offering her, also smiling, daughter a spoonful of baking soda. The booklet is a

reprint of a newspaper article “Diet and Health” written by Logan Clendening in the Kansas City Star detailing all the possible medical applications of, specifically, Arm and Hammer baking soda in the treatment of common illnesses ranging from headaches and colds, to acne and itchy rashes. I am unclear how this small three by five-inch pamphlet would have been received, whether it be as drug store gospel or the equivalent of the Arby’s coupons I get in the mail every month, but, disregarding the obvious greased palms and ad money spent in the creation of this article, the content certainly has a zeal to it. Clendening starts strong, saying that health is the birthright of man and that sickness is a symptom of violating nature. He goes on to quote “the foremost firefighter in the world” (no name given of course) to deliver a long-winded metaphor likening sickness to a fire to give him some legitimacy. There’s also some noble sentiment about the fight against illness and how a man who does his duty as a man will armor himself and his home against such threats. This verbiage honestly seems like a poke at housewives he may think are malleable enough to insist that their husbands forego this product at the detriment of his virtue as a provider.
The entire purpose of the pamphlet is to give simple instructions to combat common maladies, but it can’t be done without first laying out two disclaimers stating that baking soda is not a cure-all and that results may vary depending on the contents of one’s stomach. Nor could he go without a slew of insistences that the baking soda remedies were tested by esteemed physicians and given their approval, ostensibly for Logan to convince himself he wasn’t killing innocents by the hundred for twenty dollars and a lollipop. If for no other reason, the pamphlet is a good signifier of what ailed the people of the time, or at least, what they would talk about in a public forum.