O, supplemented youth!

In the 1960s and early 70s, Canadian children did not regularly eat fresh fruit or vegetables during the winter months due to complex British Commonwealth rules that stated that all food must be grey or mush or both.

Even if fresh fruit were allowed, the cost of transportation from warmer climates was prohibitive. This was due to isolationist trade regulations that required each piece of fruit to be packaged and shipped separately due to an irrational fear that foreign fruits might contain parasites or demons. Today, of course, we understand that fruit demons are extremely rare.

Consequently, if you were a Canadian child growing up in the 60s and 70s, you basically became transparent during the winter months. One of the reasons we survived at all was because in the spring and fall we ate a steady diet of lawn clippings and Lik-M-Aid.

During the brief summer months, it was important to ingest as much fresh fruit as possible. The countless strawberry festivals across the land were not so much social events as ritualistic intakes of vitamin C that happened to involve (as do all good things in this world) whipped cream and cake.

But winters in Canada were bleak. By the mid-60s, our pioneering skills in canning fruits had been lost due to the pervasive American belief that sugar should not be used as a preservative but consumed directly.

Thankfully, Canada at this time benefited from the burgeoning nutritional supplement industry. For example, I distinctly remember taking a daily dose of vitamin C syrup. It was orange and viscous and formulated to supplement a child’s winter diet of potatoes and Squeez-A-Snak cheese.

(My mother, incidentally, has no recollection of such a syrup, but who are you going to believe, someone whose brain was nourished by vitamin C syrup, or someone whose wasn’t?)

There was also, of course, Broccolot, which promised all the goodness of broccoli in the form of a syrup that was also a silver polish. It was truly an age of wonders. Broccolot wasn’t particularly popular, however, because most Canadians had never heard of broccoli until 1980, coinciding with the United Nations International Year of the Stinky Vegetable.

Banoobe was a banana-flavoured paste in a tube that you could spread on toast. It contained zero percent real banana but seemed like the real thing if you had never tried the real thing. It was the Tang of breakfast spreads.

And it wasn’t just fruits and vegetables. There were other supplements as well. For example, who can forget Mr. Beef-O? These were pills shaped like miniature T-bones that offered concentrated doses of growth hormones and testosterone “For The Little Raging Man Inside You.” Mr. Beef-O pills are now thought to be responsible for Paul Henderson’s iconic winning goal versus Russia as well as 63% of all schoolyard fights between 1968 and 1977.

Vitee-Teet was another popular supplement for children who were unable to get enough dairy in their diet. It was particularly popular during the mid-70s when Canada was converting to the metric system, and there was an extended period when the only available containers that could hold the revised volumes of milk were Kodiak boot boxes. That’s where the term “Sloshing ’76” came from, as I’m sure you know.

Powdered milk also became popular at that time, but mainly as a form of punishment.

Then there was Squink. I knew a lot of kids who used to drink Squink, which was powdered squid ink that, when diluted with water, tasted like low tide and armpit. With its label depicting a winking squid with a leering grin and outstretched tentacles, Squink was chockful of vitamin B, potassium and the stuff of nightmares. Lightly diluted Squink could also be used to devise crude prison tattoos. Squink was eventually discontinued when it was found to contain high levels of plutonium. RIP, all those kids who used to drink Squink…

Astro-Dent was popular for a while, it promised “Strong, Healthy, Extra-Large Teeth… Just Like the Astronauts!” Whatever was in those pills made your gums tingle.

Everything changed in 1982 when Canada repatriated its constitution, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Free Plums. No longer was the country duty-bound to follow British trade rules. Fresh fruits and vegetables flowed into the country all year long in great abundance, although to this day, no one knows exactly what is meant by “fieldberry.”

Today, our children have access to a yearlong variety of healthy foods and no longer require a market flooded with ridiculous supplements and fruit-like substitutes. Thank goodness the food industry came to its senses about what we should be feeding our kids.


About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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40 Responses to O, supplemented youth!

  1. pinklightsabre says:

    Squink is the best, truly. The description of the label, that’s it. Better than my coffee now which is saying a lot because it’ Peet’s. Bill

  2. Banoobe – is it pronounced ba-NEW-bee or ba-NOOB (I’m favouring the former, so I can continue to chant banoobe boobie.

    Thanks for the weekly giggles. A highlight for me. 🙂

  3. HonieBriggs says:

    This reminded me of my own childhood winters with a daily dose of chalky calcium pellets and vitamin C wafers. Root vegetables sat on my plate until they sprouted new roots. The things we endured, it’s a wonder we survived. Thank God for all that Wonder Bread!

  4. Thank goodness for Flintstones Vitamins….somehow this post made me want to skip breakfast this morning….lol.

  5. Kalama says:

    squid ink..lol..tasted like low tide and armpit..you guys were squeezing the juices out of squidward’s relatives from spongbob

  6. And NOW they say that everything causes cancer…

  7. I just did a post marveling at a banana purchased in January on a Manhattan street cart. We have the l-o-n-g view.

    Mrs. Beef-O is my drag name.

  8. List of X says:

    Do those Mr. Beef-O pills by any chance cause weird hair color, extreme irritability, inability to focus, and, in extreme cases, a presidency? Because that would explain a lot.

  9. You didn’t have to consume spoonfuls of cod liver oil??? What kind of deprived childhood did you have? I spent most mornings reliving the fishy joys of a “proper breakfast.”

  10. ksbeth says:

    the world has never been quite the same since tang and candy cigarettes fell by the wayside.

  11. I was so strung out on Tang as a kid, hoping I would magically grow an astronauts brain and suddenly understand mathematics. Now as an old lady I drink Citrucel, which tastes kind of tangy, while simultaneously praying for a bowel movement. Time is a cruel mistress.

  12. Pingback: Chockful of Squink – Camel Hockey

  13. Sheila Moss says:

    I don’t remember ever taking a vitamin supplement as a child. No wonder my brain is warped. Or it could be from castor oil. Now that was a supplement to end all supplements.

  14. Anne says:

    We had regular doses of California Syrup of Figs.

  15. It can all only lead to one place….

  16. In 50s Britain the stuff to have was Delrosa Rose Hip Syrup, which was delicious. Or at least a step up from brimstone and treacle.

  17. onyajay says:

    Hilarious. As an Australian I’ve never had any of those things, or even heard of them. Broccolot😫
    Seriously, we still don’t have cheese in anything except blocks or shredded in bags. It’s yellow and comes from cows.
    We do have ONE thing that was, and still is guaranteed to put your ailing body back into a state of full health. It’s chock full of b vitamins I’m told and made from vegetable yeast- if there really is such a thing, then I’m impressed. It’s Vegemite . Misunderstood the world over , it is the sole reason for the robust health of our children…. or so the makers would lead us to believe. I still love it on buttery toast .
    Ah- long live gullibility . 😄

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I KNEW you were going to say Vegemite! I work at a private school and have gap students come over from Australia quite a bit. They try foisting their vile paste on us regularly. No takers. Ever.

      • onyajay says:

        Ha ha- it’s almost a tradition to enforce a teaspoon of it into poor unsuspectings. It’s NEVER meant to be eaten like peanut butter, only the tiniest scraping on toast. But don’t tell anyone.

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