Americans have always been suckers for a quick health or energy fix. I remember my first home remedy. In my grade school they issued a health card on each student.
One year I got a “skinny card,” suggesting that I was too thin for my age (a condition that I have since rectified.) The evaluation was far from scientific; a teacher sized us up much like Goldilocks did the bowls of porridge: We were either skinny, overweight, or just right.
Roundness Comes with Years
The women of my family drifted toward roundness in their adult years. But my mother couldn’t wait for me to fill out. Not wanting the teacher to think ill of me—or the family—she began making me a milkshake each night with an egg in it to fatten me up. It was like eggnog, but without the kick. My body rebelled, refusing to plump before its time.
Years later Carnation Milk would replicate my mother’s concoction, add a few vitamins, and market it as a meal in a can. In retrospect, I am proud to have once earned a “skinny card.” If my doctor issued one of those today, I would post it on my refrigerator door and boast of it in my Christmas letter.
Hadacol, the Health Potion of the Fifties
By the early fifties, a product hit the market known as Hadacol, the brainchild of a Louisiana politician turned patent medicine huckster. In addition to vitamin B, the miracle elixir had a 12% alcohol content, which made it popular as a beverage in the dry counties of the South. Instead of taking a tablespoon, four times a day, Hadacol enthusiasts downed it by the shot glass. Mama didn’t fall for this one. At $3.50 for a 24-ounce, family-size bottle, she felt her homemade shakes were a lot cheaper and nutritious.
Today Magic Elixirs
Today our health potions are more sophisticated, but no less costly. Energy drinks such as Red Bull and Arizona Tea give a dose of vitamin B, along with a jolt of caffeine and sometimes a dash of ginseng. But my preference is something more au natural. It is pomegranate juice. According to a researcher friend, the juice has done marvels in preventing Alzheimer disease in rats. Pomegranate treated rodents can pirouette on their hind legs, clap their paws, and prance through a complex maze lickety-split. Well, almost. Whether it will do the same for me is yet to be seen; I am still working on the pirouette.
For those who find straight pomegranate a little tart for their taste, you can jazz it up with orange juice or give it some fizz with the addition of sparkling water. It doesn’t count if you get your pomegranate fix from ice cream with a few of the fruit chips added.
One Man’s Secret
When it comes to performance enhancing elixirs, Pat Robertson may have found the secret. At age 76, the good reverend says he can leg press 2000 pounds—a Samsonian feat that even professional football players cannot match. By golly, he may be a chicken hawk, but he ain’t no “chicken-legged” hawk.
Robertson’s “leg up” doesn’t come from improved body parts or from prayer and meditation, as you might think. The strength in his loins comes from an “age-defying protein shake” that he concocted from a few dozen ingredients, including soy, saffron oil, orange juice, and apple cider vinegar. Hmmm . . . sounds a lot like my recipe for marinating pork steaks.
My Health Drink
I know that my wimpy leg presses will never merit a news story. Having recently undergone hip replacement surgery, (arthritis related, not leg press induced), I may need to confine my pressing to the ironing board. Then again, having a titanium hip joint might actually give me a “leg up” at the local gym and a crack at the record books. I dream.
If I can conquer this pirouette and rat maze run, I may have the bona fides to introduce my own health drink. I’m thinking, if I take the pomegranate juice and add egg, milk, vitamin B and ginseng, I can capture the ultimate health potion of the century—the best of Mama’s kitchen, Hadacol, Pat Robertson’s elixir, and modern science. I’m cleaning out my bathtub right now to do a test batch.