There's an ad I've seen several times about the internet, advertising tape worms for use in dieting. enter image description here

This image can easily be found googling "tapeworm diet ad". Snopes asserts uncertainty as to whether this is real, but I'm not sure if that's authoritative.

What I find particularly interesting is that one of my professors whose focus is history asserted near certainty that this ad is fake, because the fonts and styles used in this ad are anachronistic and don't make sense together. I don't know enough to know if that's credible; anyone have insight?

  • They were sold in Nogales Mexico in diet pills as late as 1992. Or at least that is what the package claimed they were.
    – Chad
    Dec 1, 2013 at 7:24
  • On the issue of whether the poster is real, I notice a variant appears in The House on the Rock which is known for its fake exhibits.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 1, 2013 at 10:07
  • I don't get what a "fake poster" is.
    – user5582
    Dec 1, 2013 at 13:07
  • @Articuno: an image that has just being composited by someone pretending is an old poster.
    – nico
    Dec 1, 2013 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


This answer addresses an earlier version of the question, which was weather people used tape-worms, not whether a particular advert was anachronistic.

Yes, people are still trying it.

The woman went to her doctor and admitted she’d bought a tapeworm off the Internet and swallowed it, says Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health. [...]

“Ingesting tapeworms is extremely risky and can cause a wide range of undesirable side effects, including rare deaths,” Quinlisk wrote in the email, as the Des Moines Register reported Friday. “Those desiring to lose weight are advised to stick with proven weight loss methods — consuming fewer calories and increasing physical activity.”

  • 3
    OK, this shows that idiots are always around, but does not quite answer the questions of whether 1) that ad is real and 2) tapeworms were used routinely (or at least commonly enough to make an ad for them) for losing weight.
    – nico
    Dec 1, 2013 at 18:36
  • 1
    @nico For some reason I think one of my books about turn of the century newspapers mentioned these being in them. I suspect that the ad in the question is apocrypha though since the ad I remember seeing was basically a small bit advertising tapeworm eggs as a diet supplement and I don't recall many ads overtly talking about "FAT" in that way though. The ads of the time were overt about somethings and subtle about others.
    – rjzii
    Dec 1, 2013 at 19:21
  • @nico:That's not how I read the question. The title seems to be the actual question. The body cites notability (poster) and explains the reason for skepticism.
    – Oddthinking
    Dec 1, 2013 at 21:26
  • @Oddthinking I thought titles are just shorthand and that the thing to be examined is the notable claim.
    – user5582
    Dec 1, 2013 at 23:09
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    @rob and don't forget that the beauty ideal we have now of being thin as a reed, more than borderline anorexic, simply didn't exist at the start of the 20th century. In fact it was preferred to have "some meat on the bones".
    – jwenting
    Dec 2, 2013 at 10:06

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