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Robin Writes: Consumer, Diagnose Thyself

Posted on Thursday, July 21, 2022 at 6:13 am

By Robin Garrison Leach

There was a black and white day when television commercials didn’t offer medical advice. We had a doctor. A mother. Grandma. We didn’t need help from our Zenith.

If Dad was irritable—swigging down his morning coffee with an attitude—and Mom was down in the dumps about it, the commercial remedy was to buy their richer, better-tasting coffee.

A “Nice Hawaiian Punch” didn’t promote sales for soothing ointment. And, except for those good-tasting orange baby aspirin we all faked illnesses to get, the only tablets we saw on TV commercials were two giant Salvo disks Wally Cox shakily dropped into a washing machine.

But our friendly sponsors couldn’t leave well enough alone. Eager to join in the phenomenal success of media marketing, over-the-counter medicines began appearing in our 60-second, Mr. Clean-viewing world.

Our medicine cabinets opened wide. We watched, and bought…for our own good.

This was serious business. White-coated “I’m not a doctor” actors counseled TV-watching consumers with all the newest remedies. Using dulcet tones and calming inflections, they showed sketches of stomachs coated with a soothing pink liquid. Likened headache pain to starkly animated sledgehammers against anvils.

We needed relief, and they were selling what we needed.

“Serutan” was “Natures” spelled backward. Geritol’s claim of an iron content equal to “a pound of calf’s liver” made kids blanch and parents guzzle it down like a sideshow energy elixir.

We watched scripted serial commercials of families in turmoil Mom was having one of her headaches: “Sure, you’re tense and irritable. But DON’T take it out on ME!” Her loved ones faded to black and the hidden announcer promised a speedy solution in handy tablet form.

Hubby can’t sleep. His cold is multi-symptom serious. But his weary wife knows what he needs:

“The sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, so-you-can-rest medicine”.

She spooned it up like porridge to her grumbling Papa Bear and they lived happily ever after.

For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.