What to Drink to be Healthy in the 1940s

coldJust say you happen upon that much dreamt-about and coveted invention – the time machine. Just say you happen upon this device but you don’t quite know how to use it and by mistake (can’t think of any other reason) you find yourself transported back to the 1940s.


The war to end all wars is rife on the continent, women belong in the kitchen doing what they’re told, and, if our parents are to be believed, everyone was walking fifty miles to school with no shoes, through ice and snow, with a schoolbag like breezeblocks on their backs.


If you find yourself in this black and white time, it’s important that you’ll know what to drink, you need to be healthy in the 1940s, their healthcare wasn’t as accomplished as our own.


You don’t believe me? Look at this picture below – in 2014, If we have a cold, we get on with it, cup of tea and you’ll make-do. In the 1940s you had to stop running a country and it was a credible news story.



Despite the fact that he probably had no one to blame but himself – clearly he didn’t drink enough Bovril or Carragol– he was sick now so regret wasn’t going to help, now he had to recover.



No doubt Mr. DeValera (Alan Rickman) would have reached for a trusty bottle of ‘Famel’ because it did what all self-respecting powers of the day did; it conquered stuff.



Along with the Famel, Dev would have been all about the Lucozade (what else?). Then, like now, Lucozade plastered the word ‘energy’ all over their adverts as if they invented the word. There are a few differences though. Then, it seems to have been palatable, according to the ad, which couldn’t have lied, “It is so palatable and energising”.


Now you only drink Lucozade if you’re a drinker who happens not to be drinking on a night out, if you’re wildly hung-over, or if you’re a rugby player. Nowadays you can buy this important product pretty much anywhere, in the miserable 40s you had to go to a chemist and plead with the man on the higher level that you needed a hit, Lucozade was the only thing that could save you. No – you didn’t have a prescription from your doctor, but you desperately needed its mystical energy. The pharmacist would think on it for a minute and they he would exclaim, “Well it is mightily palatable!” and he’d do a jingle and a dance and you’d join in coughing and spluttering and the Germans would bomb the British. Lucozade for all.


Also, they called it a “tonic food beverage”. How weird is that?



If Dev was like me, and didn’t find Lucozade in the least bit palatable he could have reached for a different medicinal syrup (someone could have handed him a different medicinal syrup, he wouldn’t want to have strained himself. He had a cold!) This other medicinal syrup? Yes, Ribena! I think we can all agree it’s much more palatable, and they’re still banging on about the vitamin C to this day. So, even if the science isn’t quite right you’ve got to give them credit for persistence. They even have it in their ad, probably as a direct shot at Lucozade, “it’s easier (and much nicer), to take Ribena blackcurrant syrup”. This dig comes just before they get down to business in the standard word-heavy ads of the day: “seriously though” (kids NEED this and so does everyone, and all the chemists have enough stock to sell to you all so everyone go and buy it and make us rich).



If I know Dev, like I think I know Dev, he wouldn’t have gone anywhere near Beecham’s. Wouldn’t have trusted them. If his Lucozade or Ribena weren’t having the desired affect, and he was worrying about being healthy enough to get in to the Dail the next day, he would have turned to the monks. Sure aren’t they still doing their magic now, sixty years later? That’s right – Buckfast.


Again, all the blame is on that dastardly ‘Winter’ (we’ll get him yet!) but Buckfast – which was time-tested then – is even more time-tested now and they’re still doing the same thing, still a tonic wine, ‘made by monks’ and there’s no doubting it does wonders for your nerves.


(Experiment to try yourself: Get normal guy to chat up hot girl. Record results. Then give normal guy a bottle of Bucky, get him to chat up hot girl. Record unfathomable rise in confidence.)




Dev was no man to do things in halves though. So if there was no immediate improvement after a few bottles of Buckfast it would have been straight onto the Bulmers. He would have known the alcohol was the only thing to get him through his plight. Bulmers and Tuborg were the way to go, same as nowadays. Or, perhaps a smooth Martell and an ever-popular Paddy.



Of course, this ‘alcohol fixes all ailments’ approach to healthcare wasn’t all roses. It had its negative side affects on society which can be seen very clearly from the news article below.



So, read this guide again, it’ll come in very handy if you do find yourself back in the 1940s, in fact, if you can manage it, I recommend you print a copy and keep it in your pocket at all times, you never know when you’ll find yourself in need of such a definitive guide to healthy drinking in the 1940s.


P.S. keep away from Coca-Cola.