Monday, August 15, 2011

The Marmola Entertainers

Here's another really obscure gem. Marmola was a weight-loss pill that was charged with false advertising back in 1935. [Source] He advertised in print rags like the Police Gazette, Life, The Druggist,  and the Baptist Record. Time magazine wrote about their "inventor" Ed Hayes in less than glowing terms. They even wrote that Marmola "may cause a user to drop dead."  Hayes was a crank and a bit infamous for it.
"For 30 years a crafty old Detroiter called Edward D. Hayes, vendor of notrums, has dodged the U. S. Post Office, the Federal Trade Commission, Federal Courts, Better Business Bureaus. Twenty years ago he slipped, was arrested and fined $5,000 and had his sucker list of 500,000 names destroyed..."
The FTC sent cease and desist letter to the 21 radio stations running paid advertisements for Marmola. Time didn't list their calls, but only three cities Rochester, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Miami. Another source, Inger Stole,  states it more forcefully...More here.
"There was a case in the late 1920s involving a diet cure called Marmola. It turned out that Marmola contained a chemical that burned human tissue. But by the time the government could do anything about it, about 70 people had died. The FTC issued a "desist and refrain" order against Marmola ads but the Supreme Court ruled that the FTC acted outside its jurisdiction. Under existing laws, Marmola ads were fully legal."
Legal or not, Marmola the product, was bunkum, and probably dangerous bunkum. It had been for sale since 1907 and finally the tide of regulation had turned. But before it did, Marmola  sponsored a radio program very briefly, all around 1931. OTRpedia indicates it was syndicated, but not by whom. Possibly related to that I note that Brunswick Records pressed up a series of 25 Marmola 78s that may be connected to the broadcasts. I found a single reference to an FCC fine levied on KNX-AM in 1936 because of Marmola ads. That is far from comprehensive. Six transcriptions are known to exist of the program. Two sides of one acetate are on Youtube (thank you jnorman111). More here.

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