Tomato pills to cure scurvy, broken bones, and maybe even your many digestive woes were once popular in the mid-1800s when the fraudulent, adulterer, possibly even murderer Dr. John Cook Bennett first claimed that concentrated ketchup was the magical drug everyone needed.
Partnering up with marketer Archibald Miles, Bennett set out to sell these ketchup pills to the world. He managed to succeed, for some reason, despite being labeled by the church—of all institutions—as an overall sleazy human being and even going so far as to excommunicate him for all his bad behaviors.
According to The Daily Meal, a website covering food and drink topics through articles, videos, and special reports, most people believed Bennett because back then, they had no way to cross-reference potentially fake things as, obviously, they had no internet to help them. And the many inconveniences that Bennett claimed the ketchup pill it would cure, it did, such as indigestion and diarrhea.
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As were many things back in the 1800s, Bennett’s booming business was then taken up by imposters who claimed they had better ketchup pills with better formulas that they said could even mend broken bones. That was fake, of course, but people didn’t know that too.
At the time, ketchup was made of mushrooms, and so they didn’t find it odd at all that a tomato should be a pill. What’s more, from an objective standpoint, a tomato does help cure “certain maladies,” but the only reason Bennett’s pills didn’t make matters worse was because they were nothing but laxatives.
Eventually, people saw that the claims were fake all along. Broken bones would stay broken, but at least Bennett was prevented from further scamming any poor living soul out of their money for a couple of laxatives. The sale of these pills officially ended around 1850, and from then on until the present day, people discovered that tomato ketchup is better ingested with a variety of other food items.
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