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Ed Driscoll

Exotic Thanksgiving Rituals, Then And Now

November 24th, 2011 - 8:00 am

fordigestionssake

A study in extremes: first up, the Consumerist Website has a scan of a Thanksgiving-themed Camel Cigarette ad from the depths of FDR’s Depression (click to enlarge). As Meg Marco writes in the scan’s caption:

This advertisement for Camel cigarettes appeared in the November 23, 1936 edition of LIFE magazine. It earnestly demands that you smoke a Camel after each course of Thanksgiving dinner — “for digestion’s sake.”

Some of our favorite quotes from the ad include, “smoke a camel right after the soup,” “By all means enjoy a second helping, but before you do — smoke another Camel,” and “My own personal experience is that smoking Camels with my meals and afterwards builds up a sense of digestive well-being.”

These days, New York’s famously politically correct Mayor Bloomberg has his own extreme approach to digestive well-being:

When a small church comes to the Bowery Mission bearing fried chicken with trans fat, unwittingly breaking the law, they’re told “thank you.” Then workers quietly chuck the food, mission director Tom Bastile said.

“It’s always hard for us to do,” Basile said. “We know we have to do it.” . . .

Lines at soup kitchens are up by 21 percent this year, according to a NYC Coalition Against Hunger report released yesterday. The city’s law banishing trans fat took effect in July 2008 and touched everyone with Health Department food licenses — including emergency food providers.

Frankly, I’m not sure which is loonier concept — and given the speed at which the centuries old practice of smoking was demonized in the last decades of the 20th century, I shudder to think of the even more rococo rituals and obsessions that will likely surround Thanksgiving in another sixty years.

(Originally published November 26, 2010.)

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