Now you too can have a body like Don Draper!

16 Aug

In 1964 Gardner Jameson and Elliott Williams (both pseudonyms of Robert Cameron) published the appropriately slim pamphlet The Drinking Man’s Diet (“also recommended for ladies and teetotalers”). It sold 2.4 million copies in two years—and no wonder, because this was a plan that “would let you have two martinis before lunch, and a thick steak generously spread with Sauce Bearnaise” (The Drinking Man’s Diet [San Francisco: Cameron and Co, 1965], p. 1). A couple of years later, and no doubt trying to cash in on Cameron’s spectacular success, Sidney Petrie, founder of the quackish-sounding Institute of Hypnotherapy, brought out the significantly heftier Martinis and Whipped Cream: The New Carbo-Cal Way to Lose Weight and Stay Slim. Both Cameron’s and Petrie’s regimes are basically prototypes of what later became known as the low-carb Atkins Nutritional Approach, which led to an epidemic of halitosis in the early 2000s, but are defiantly children of the Sixties: more fun, less austere and displaying a lethal, if cheerful disregard for the artery-clogging dangers of cholesterol. Here’s how Petrie introduces his book:

Dieting to lose weight can now be a thing of the past. The gnawing hunger, the war with one’s self, the celery stalks, the broken promises—all may soon be forgotten. Gone, too, will be the slow but sure regaining of the pounds and the need to start the torture all over again!

Instead, we are entering a new era of eat well, drink well, and weigh less; an era when martinis, filet mignon and whipped cream replace the skimmer milk, carrot sticks and melba toast of that on-again, off-again diet age.

The carbohydrate calorie is more fattening than any other kind of calorie. This is the scientific fact that is now revolutionizing the eating habits of millions. By using this fact in their daily lives, people are now literally able to eat more and weigh less! Slender people can enjoy a hearty breakfast, a mid-morning coffee break, a “Madison Avenue lunch”, an afternoon cocktail hour, a gourmet dinner, and a midnight snack—and still remain slender.

No longer does one need to count every calorie consumed, or to measure portions ounce by ounce. Only the villain carbohydrates need to be watched. We do not have to watch our step on proteins, or even fats. Eliminate as much carbohydrate as we can and fat melts away. Enjoy the double-sized vodka martinis, bigger portions of roast beef, and “seconds” on strawberries and cream, and still lose weight.

— Sidney Petrie with Robert B. Stone, Martinis and Whipped Cream: The New Carbo-Cal Way to Lose Weight and Stay Slim (West Nyack, NY: Parker, 1966), p. ix.

So, after a light breakfast of bacon and eggs followed by a lunch of chopped steak and onions, what does a typical dinner look like for our prospective dieter? Well, like this:


Martini cocktail, one or two

Porterhouse steak

Mushroom caps, stuffed with cheese

Broccoli with butter sauce

Glass of dry wine

Cheese and wafers (3)

Coffee and cream

— (Ibid., p. 62.)

You’re probably thinking: That’s all well and good, but what if I’m invited to a swinging party? How can I drink too much and still stay in shape? Fear not, our author has thought of everything:

If you head for the bar at the end of the working day, then whisky, vodka, rum, gin, brandy or dry wines are your best bet. This applies to the cocktail party, of course, as well. […] Martinis are not made with sugar and contain no carbohydrate when dry, just a trace from extra dry Vermouth. Use French Vermouth as it is much lower in carbohydrate than Italian. Avoid beer, sweet wine, and cordials. Don’t reach for the peanuts or potato chips. […] Strawberries and cream are always welcome at an afternoon tea. […] You may want to substitute a champagne punch for the tea. […] A favorite recipe for champagne punch calls for one bottle of domestic sauterne for each bottle of dry champagne. Add a few jiggers of brandy and the juice from a lemon and an orange. At a cocktail party, martinis are your favorite mixed drink, champagne flows freely, and the tinkle of ice sings a ballad of scotch, bourbon or rye on the rocks. (Ibid., pp. 229-30.)

How about a countervailing, but contemporaneous view?

Alcohol is fearfully fattening for many of us. When a fat person is regularly losing weight at the rate of three pounds a week, on nothing but a big fat steak and a demitasse twenty-one times a week, it can be expected that one glass of beer will add one half pound to the body weight. A martini or highball will add about one pound and a bacardi cocktail one and a quarter pounds. There is not much future in that.

— Blake F. Donaldson, Strong Medicine (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1962), pp. 209-10.


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