It was  called
“The Hot Weather  Food“
but what was it really?

This advertisement from McCall’s Magazine,
August 1903, explains that:

“At three months these twins were put on Eskay’s Food, when one was in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion from lack of food that nour­ished. At 14 months they are strong, healthy and per­fect­ly devel­oped and each has four­teen teeth, which came with­out the least trouble.”

But why were they given Eskay’s Food and why is it called The Hot Weather Food?

Their moth­er, Mrs. Sarah Weaver, Chelsea, Mass., asserts: “My twin babies have received won­der­ful ben­e­fits from Eskay’s Food. We tried near­ly every oth­er food but noth­ing was sat­is­fac­to­ry. We have used Eskay’s Food for some months now – and dur­ing the hottest weath­er the babies are grow­ing stronger and con­stant­ly increas­ing in size and weight.”

 Perhaps it was Cholera Infantum.

An Ohio physi­cian wrote: “I was hur­ried­ly called to a case of Cholera Infan­tum not long ago, where I found the child cold and with a bluish pal­lor, pro­fuse watery dis­charges and per­sis­tent vom­it­ing, and, as I thought, dying. I pre­scribed ESKAY”S ALBUMENIZED FOOD exclu­sive­ly, which it retained. At the end of three days it was dis­missed cured, with direc­tions to con­tin­ue the Food. I con­sid­er Eskay’s a very valu­able Infant Food.”

Tes­ti­mo­ni­als like these were com­mon in adver­tise­ments for baby food. 

Mellin’s Food ads car­ried tes­ti­mo­ni­als from once-dis­traught but now pleased par­ents. Many of the sto­ries were hor­ri­fy­ing, but the out­comes were always hap­py healthy babies. Nesté’s claimed their sup­ple­ment was “the near­est thing to mother’s milk, ” adding” “if moth­ers only knew that the Gov­ern­ment inspec­tors found through­out the land only eight clean dairies in a hundred.”

Oth­er baby foods includ­ed  Wagner’s Infant Food, Carnick’s Sol­u­ble Food, Hawley’s Food which orig­i­nal­ly was “Liebig’s Food for Infants,”  Borden’s,  Just’s Food, Horlick’s Malt­ed Milk, Lac­to­prepara­ta, Pep­to­genic Milk Pow­der, and Lac­tat­ed Food. 

There are a dozen advertisements for Eskay’s Food on the website of Old Main Artifacts of Illinois State University. The introduction by Dr. C. Wakefield & Company reads:

In an era where child­hood obe­si­ty is a major health con­cern and peo­ple argue about the rel­a­tive mer­its of baby for­mu­la ver­sus breast feed­ing, it can be hard to recall that at one time, sim­ply get­ting enough calo­ries into under­nour­ished babies was a real prob­lem (and still is for many peo­ple today). And chil­dren rou­tine­ly died from the “sum­mer com­plaint,” which was basi­cal­ly “diar­rhea, usu­al­ly in infants caused by spoiled milk” (which has become less of an issue since pas­teur­iza­tion of milk became legal­ly required).

So in the true spir­it of Vic­to­ri­an indus­tri­al­ism, many ded­i­cat­ed chemists, entre­pre­neurs and reg­u­lar huck­sters went to work, invent­ing baby foods and mak­ing out­landish claims, to fill this glob­al need. Along with Jus­tus von Liebig, Hen­ri Nes­tle and Gus­tav Mellin, a man named Frank Baum invent­ed an infant food which, for rea­sons I’ve been unable to find, became known as Eskay’s Albu­m­enized Food.

What was Cholera infantum?



The offi­cial Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Pedi­atrics, July 1978, offers an arti­cle on the sub­ject. Here is the abstract:


T. E. C.

Cholera infan­tum was the name Ben­jamin Rush gave to the so-called sum­mer diar­rhea of infants and chil­dren. This dis­ease was also known as “the vom­it­ing and purg­ing of chil­dren” or “the dis­ease of the sea­son” because of its reg­u­lar­i­ty in appear­ing dur­ing the sum­mer months. The mor­tal­i­ty from this mal­a­dy dur­ing the ear­ly 19th cen­tu­ry was appalling and its treat­ment unsci­en­tif­ic as this case his­to­ry by Dr. Joseph Skin­ner of North Car­oli­na of his daugh­ter’s ill­ness will show.

My daugh­ter Cor­nelia, aged sev­en­teen months, was attacked about the mid­dle of June, 1829, with the usu­al symp­toms of cholera infan­tum, … occa­sion­al vom­it­ing, par­tic­u­lar­ly when any flu­id was tak­en in the stom­ach; the mat­ter eject­ed was some­times tinc­tured with bile, but more com­mon­ly it was mere­ly the flu­id tak­en in the stom­ach; the bow­els were exceed­ing­ly irri­ta­ble, the evac­u­a­tions copi­ous, fre­quent, and very offen­sive; some­times of a clay colour, at oth­er times resem­bling coag­u­lat­ed milk; fever of a remit­tent form; skin hot and dry, &c.…On exam­i­na­tion of the mouth, I found the gums tume­fied and four molares [sic] mak­ing their way through, which was believed to be the excit­ing cause of the train of symp­toms which I have described.

In the treat­ment of the case my first object was to remove all sources of irri­ta­tion; accord­ing­ly the gums were freely scar­i­fied, and the bow­els were purged with calomel and cal­cined mag­ne­sia and injec­tions of com­mon salt and warm water. This prac­tice was steadi­ly adhered to for sev­er­al days, but fail­ing to pro­duce the desired effect, the symp­toms of pros­tra­tion fast approach­ing, the pulse indi­cat­ing a great degree of debil­i­ty, and the fever assum­ing a more decid­ed remit­tent type, indi­cat­ing the influ­ence of miasmata,.

  • Copy­right © 1978 by the Amer­i­can Acad­e­my of Pediatrics
printers devil

And when those babies out­grew Eskay’s,
they much pre­ferred the Soda Foun­tain!