The December 1941 issue of Mechanix Illustrated — presumably on shelves before Pearl Harbor — promises Captain Marvel Troops for America! — through the miracle of modern scientific vitamins:
The Health Service combed the hill country and got together a group of underfed and under-nourished “hill billies” — people who had lived most of their lives on salt pork and corn bread. They were as shiftless, lazy, lackadaisical a bunch of folks as you could find.
We cannot expect here to detail all of the many experimental plans which the Health Service applied, all of the disappointments they met, nor all of the technical details of their research.
We can, however, tell you this: After several years of experimenting with diet, the Health Service turned these character-less hill people into strong, healthy, ambitious, thriving, energy-filled citizens, all of them a credit to the community!
It was all done by scientific feeding of diets containing the proper vitamins, proteins and minerals.
But here is the amazing ending of this experiment: After having accomplished this miracle of scientific feeding, after having turned the hillbillies into “go-getters,” the researchers then put them back on their old diet of salt pork and corn bread — and, in a few short weeks, turned their subjects back into shiftless hill-billies again!
The researchers recite the case of one woman in particular of this group. When she arrived at the health center, her nature was so vicious that she frequently became embroiled in fights with her friends and with the scientists. She refused to do any work whatsoever. But after a few months of proper diet, fortified with vitamin “shots,” she became a perfect lady, co-operative, lovable, willing to work and level-tempered! Deprived of her vitamin-full diet, she once more relapsed to her former snarling, shiftless self.
Then, to complete the cycle of wizardy, the health experts once more changed the hill-billies into “go-getters” by means of diet and vitamin shots.
Now getting closer to our American shock troops, consider the RAF pilot they call “Carrots.” His photograph has been carried in all the newspapers. It was not his red hair that won him his nickname, but his habit of munching on carrots. “Carrots” has the reputation of being the best night fighter in the RAF. Why? Because he can see better in the dark than most of his pals. Why can he see better? Scientists will tell you it is because carrots are a particularly rich source of Vitamin A. And Vitamin A is a preventative of “night blindness.” Heavy shots of it will increase the ability of anyone to see in the dark!
What happened to the Tennessee mountaineers to change their personalities completely? Principally, Vitamin B-1 and its complexes. In the army, they call the Vitamin B complexes the “Morale Vitamin.” The Morale Vitamin promotes fearlessness, willingness to battle for a cause, endurance, unusual strength. It also heightens intelligence and perceptibility.
In conjunction with feeding of the Morale Vitamin, a forced feeding of calcium is also used. In the health service tests, from two to four times the amount of calcium that an average person ordinarily eats was fed. Calcium accelerates the rate of development and maintains a higher level of adult vitality, it was found.
Scientists have discovered that measured administrations of the male sex hormone also adds to the combativeness of the soldier.
Should our shock troops also be protected against wounds? They are being fed heavy dosages of Vitamin K, the anti-hemorrhage vitamin. The K element cuts down excessive bleeding in wounds and enables the blood to coagulate more quickly.
There seems to be no end to the magic of modern administrations. For instance, scientists have just recently discovered that they can restore your gray hair to its normal color — with vitamins! One of the B complexes, known as para-aminobenzoic acid, will do it.
Hitler, as usual, was the first to recognize the value in war of diet and vitamin concentrates. As a matter of fact, Hitler is using diet as a two-edged weapon. The rations of the German army are built on the lines of a simple peasant diet — whole meal, vegetables, potatoes, cheese, skimmed milk and dried fruit. These foods are vitamin-rich, mineral-and protein-rich, and contain elements which America’s white flour and highly refined foods, until recently, have lacked. Germans have also developed the famous Bratling Concentrate of foods — soy beans, meat and vegetables — which will not lose its value even though kept in cans. The Panzer troops also get highly concentrated vegetable and fruit juices and vitamin derivatives.
That is one edge of Hitler’s two-edged diet sword. The other is more terrifying. By depriving his conquered people of foods containing the Morale Vitamin, B-1, he is deliberately attempting to demoralize whole races of people and deprive them of their “will to victory.”
Dr. Thomas Parran, Surgeon General of the United States, and Paul V. McNutt, federal health and welfare coordinator, along with the Department of Agriculture’s economists and nutritionists, already have started a nation-wide campaign to make our entire populace conscious of these amazing forward strides in the knowledge of the importance of diet. Dr. Parran and Mr. McNutt have set a definite goal in this campaign. The government’s goal is to induce Americans to eat 70 to 100 per cent more fresh fruits and vegetables, 35 per cent more eggs, 20 per cent more milk and 10 per cent more butter. Great retail food chains, such as the A. & P. Tea Company, have been enlisted in this campaign. The A. & P., in particular, has conducted an eight-months’ educational drive and reported recently that American housewives in this time have stepped up their buying of foods containing the essential A, B and C vitamin foods by an average of 18 per cent.
I love that tiny passage in the middle: Scientists have discovered that measured administrations of the male sex hormone also adds to the combativeness of the soldier.
The Golden Age of Steroid Chemistry started in the 1930s and lasted through the 1950s.
Anyway, the other wonderful element of the story is its emphasis on jai-alai cesta-thrown grenades.