You Can't Possibly Guess How Often You're Supposed To Drink Milk On 1972's "The Fat Squirrels" Diet

"Did You Ever See A Fat Squirrel?" yes all the time
"Did You Ever See A Fat Squirrel?" yes all the time

I picked this book up for $5 a while back when just reading the title on a shelf marked "GREAT COVERS, BAD BOOKS" elicited an involuntary "Yes, all the time" from me. It's very silly, obviously, and I really shouldn't buy books like this, where my only reason for doing so is to feel superior to the author, since "prefabricated contempt" isn't a great reason to read, but every so often I have to unbend. It's just so strange! I think as far as "animals that get fat" go, squirrels have to be up there with "pre-hibernation bears." They're always getting fat before winter! I've never seen a fat snake, I don't think, but I probably see two or three fat squirrels on any given morning just from walking my dogs.

Incidentally, this book was printed by Rodale, Inc., which also published Prevention Magazine and that Eat This, Not That book that was everywhere when I worked at Borders back in 2009 (they also published Pete Rose's autobiography in 2004). You may remember that its founder, J.I. Rodale, famously died while filming an episode of The Dick Cavett Show. Rodale has since been acquired by Hearst Communications and spun off as a subsidiary of Penguin Random House.

Some of the chapter titles include:

If You Are A Sugar Addict You Should Really Make an Effort

A Very Crude Experiment

One Foot is a Lot Different Than Ten Feet

The Monotony of It!

How About a Martini?

What's It Going To Cost?

Some of the more notable quotes:

"Did you ever try drinking water? It's a remarkable beverage, proven over millions of years to be the most healthful beverage anyone can drink. The wild animals and birds know no other."

"Once upon a time there was a reasonable something called hospitality which necessitated offering a traveller something to eat almost as soon as he came into the house."

"Have a glass of milk or buttermilk. She'll come round. You'll see."

"There are individuals with other problems. You may be one of them."

"Do you really need recipes?"

"Lately there has been a lot of enthusiasm over what is called jogging. This is fast walking combined with slow running. It's not tiring. It's invigorating and restful."

It also makes a brief and approving reference to something called "The Wisconsin Diet," including a sample daily menu that contains an absolutely astonishing number of meals that consist solely of milk and meat, as you can see here:

Leaving aside the image of a "quarter-cup of meat" at breakfast, this diet recommend that three times a day. Since the suggested menu consists of six meals, fully half of the meals you're expected to sit down to every day will include nothing more or less than milk and meat. It's like an all-Esau diet. All that varies throughout the day is the milk-to-meat ratio. (And why "six teaspoons" of salad dressing for lunch? Why not two tablespoons, which is the same thing? That's like saying "Six-twelfths of an apple" instead of "one-half".)

Mid-morning, one cup of skimmed milk and one ounce of meat.

Mid-afternoon, it's now the meat that comes first: 2 ounces of meat (this time it must be lean) with a mere one-half cup of skimmed milk.

In the evening, another half-cup of skimmed milk, again with one ounce of meat.

You might be tempted to get it all over with in one meal – to try to choke down two cups of skim milk and four ounces of meat in one go at 4pm. Nothing could be more deadly. Your meat and milk doses must be carefully administered throughout the day by the ounce and the half-cup, or else they can't be answerable for the results. Good luck, and let me know if you try it.

[Picture via me]