The Legendary Breakfast of ZO

Graphic Design Labs (Better Homes and Gardens, 1930)

Is it past ten before you throw off your listlessness? Does your husband need a second cup of coffee to wake him up? Do the children bicker about what they will eat for breakfast?

My goodness, Battle Creek Health Foods, you must have been peeking in on us this morning. What with all the coffee-pouring and bickering, it’s no wonder I was draped over the laptop until, yes, past ten.

So am I glad that I came across this ad while looking through the fabulous Graphic Design Labs collection today. Until now, I had never heard of the mighty powers of ZO. Who knew that FIG BRAN (so exciting, it must be capitalized!) and something called ZO, put together, formed a breakfast with super powers even more amazing than Superman’s, back in 1930?

ZO itself had figs in it. Zo, zo many figs. It was made of “bran and figs combined with Savita yeast extract.” Plus also there is the to-be-expected yadda yadda about freedom from constipation, in the ad. I will spare you that. We’ve seen enough fruit salt and bran muffin and yeast ads here to know what combining figarific ZO with extra FIG BRAN will do to an unsuspecting, listless, coffee-addled person.

ZO “will send your husband off without a grouch.” It will give you and me both “vim and stamina…till noon.” Wait…huh? Only until noon? At 12:01, am I going to be like Cinderella running (or slumping, in this case) from the ball? Yes, ZO will wear off at high noon and leave me as vimless as a pumpkin the day after Halloween.

But so what. That name is enough to wake me up in the morning: ZO! There should have been a comic book series called ZO. Something that took place in ancient Egypt maybe, with evil yet listless mummies, and lightning bolts – and a superhero called ZO who wears a shiny black cape and a special jewel in the shape of a giant fig. The Legend of ZO needs to be told!

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13 thoughts on “The Legendary Breakfast of ZO

  1. You know, constipation seemed to be such a big worry in the 30s and 40s. I guess vegetables weren't invented yet. Seems that every other ad in an old magazine is about losing your "pep" and needing to be cleansed of the demon poop."I'd like a box of Zo, please.""Ah, Mrs. Johnson, I see you're constipated again…"

  2. Love your blog postings! They are so much fun.On question about the Graphic Design Labs. Can you use these images in postings? Couldn't find any copyright information on the site.By the way, passed along your site to my 24 year old daughter. She loves everything retro and vintage.Thanks,Deb

  3. Thanks for the interesting content!!! Good job! Keep it up, hope to read your other updates… Care to exchanged link. Just ping me. Thanks

  4. Barbara – Yes, it was a constant worry back then; historians need to reevaluate the Depression era, I think (although to be fair, it was a pre-30s worry, too).Amanda – With a name like ZO, it just has to help!Kath – Yep, it probably is. Bill – Vim, and precision timing!Deb – Thank you! Awhile ago, probably a couple of years now, Tom Stiff (proprietor of TJS Labs) was kind enough to comment here and (as I recall, and I sure hope I do) kindly gave me permission to use the images. If he ever changes his mind – or any other source for that matter – I hope they'll let me know so I can makes things right. And for paid posts, BTW, I stick with Google Books pre-1923 stuff, or Wikimedia. Although no paid posts here in awhile since my PR has gone south (hello, Custom Domain, I'm looking at you!)Richard – And for a new level of grouchiness, down the road.Con Artist Trickster – Yeah, it does sound like it might result in complete exhaustion, really.joy – Thank you.Cari – Like you, he has summed up many things here so perfectly that I really ought to edit the comments into the post :)

  5. Unable to throw off my listlessness until after I get off work. That's odd. Children do bicker and scamper. Especially after figs. I wonder if this company is related to Kelloggs. He use to run a sanatarium (health sanatarium that concentrated on cleaning out people's systems). That was a good movie. Starring Hannibal Lector as Kellogg, remember? What's his name. Jeez. Anthony hopkins. You never saw it. Never mind. FINE post!

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