Ads From The 1800s

So, my first observation (hard to miss) is the scary looking witch lady(?) - not sure how she is supposed to help you sell the product, but I guess Pabst knew what they were doing.  I also love the variety of activities that you could be doing any given evening, which are bound to tire you out: conversation, dancing, reciting, lecturing, acting, or singing.  I don't know how many of you go out reciting each night, but if you do, make sure you follow it up with some Pabst Malt Extract!

Most people know about the standard Pabst Blue Ribbon beer today - kind of reminds me of the modern-day equivalent of Duff beer on the Simpsons.  But what I was trying to figure out is, "What exactly is Pabst Malt Extract?"  "Is it a beer?"  "Is it just a malt extract?"  These are the main things (from the ad) that were confusing me: 1) It says, "THE ART OF BREWING WAS DEVELOPED BY THE GERMANS," and, "MILWAUKEE BEER IS FAMOUS[;] PABST HAS MADE IT SO." These seem to imply that we might be talking about some form of beer. 2) But they also call it, "a bottle of the liquid lunch" and if you have ever brewed your own beer (or studied the process), you know that malt extract is not "beer" at all, but rather a thick, concentrated liquid starch or grain-based sweetener.

If it is a beer, that would make you question a number of its claims, AND Pabst's other advertisements, which specifically targeted pregnant and nursing women!

To give a little background, here is a "What Is Malt Extract Summary" from Briess Processes website:
"Malt can be further processed to produce liquid or dried sweeteners called Malt Extracts. There are several classes of Malt Extracts, including Standard Malt Extracts, Specialty and Black Malt Extracts, and Coextracts of Malt and Other Cereal Grains.

Standard Malt Extracts can be thought of as the original starch- or grain-based sweetener. Long before the advent of acid conversion, genetically modified enzymes, and corn syrups, starch-based sweeteners were created for bakers and food processors using malted grains and water. Produced using a variant of the brewing process, malted grains are mixed with water, allowing the enzymes to break down the starch and proteinaceous material of the malted seed. Insoluble fiber is removed, and the resulting sugary liquid, instead of being fermented into beer, is concentrated to make a viscous, stable liquid sweetener or is dried to make a powder. Due to the type of enzymes naturally present in malt, malt extracts have carbohydrate profiles very similar to a high-maltose syrup. Because they are made from a whole grain, they also contain about 6% protein (8% db), as well as an abundance of free amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. These constituents, which are not present in starch-based syrups, increase the nutritional value of malt extract as a nutritive sweetener and account for its use as a yeast food and browning agent. Malt extracts can be made from any type of malted grain. However, similar to the term 'malt', the term 'malt extract' unqualified refers to an extract of malted barley. According to CFR, an extract of 100% malted barley can also be referred to as a malt syrup. Extracts of other malted grains would be properly labeled as 'extract of malted wheat' or 'malted wheat extract'."

Based on the the definition of a malt extract, and the fact that people have been making malt extracts LONG before Pabst ever existed, I would venture to say that we are talking about a thick, barley syrup of sorts...yummy.  I am going to guess that if this is the case, you wouldn't go home and drink a whole bottle after a night of lecturing.

I would be happy to be proven wrong (if someone out there has evidence that it was really beer), because that would make these ads much more entertaining, but since I am assuming its a non-alcoholic syrup, then it reminds me a lot of molasses.  I have never heard of taking malt extract as a "drink" or "nourishment," but I have been told that taking a tablespoon of molasses, especially if you are anemic or have just birthed a child, is very beneficial for increasing your energy because of its numerous nutrients:

Molasses is a thick, dark syrup that is a byproduct of sugar refining, and results when sugar is crystallized out of sugar beet juice (originally) or sugar cane (modern).  It is sold for human consumption, baking, as an ingredient in animal feed, and to be used in the brewing of ale and distillation of rum.  So, instead of a thick, barley syrup for "what ails you," you could also "drink" a thick, sugar cane syrup...sounds tastier to me!

In conclusion, it would be funnier if these ads were talking about Pabst beer, but it is more likely a barley syrup.  You aren't going to find this today for human consumption, except in brewing supply stores and catalogs if you're interested in making beer.  And gone (for the most-part) are the days of taking any natural extract as an energy booster - they have since been replaced with sugar-laden energy drinks, potent coffee, caffeinated sodas, and the like.  As for me though, I don't actually prefer any of those modern-day "energy-boosters;" I will take a hearty, natural, nutrient-rich meal or snack over those items any day.

I am writing a book about a Kansas homesteader, Isaac, who came to Kansas from Rossville, IL where he was a druggist. In my research for the book I have read about various patent medicines and other health fads. The Pabst tonic info was particularly interesting to read, as Isaac mentions in his journal the sale of alcohol by druggists. Isaac also joined the 200 Year Club, so I researched the Ralstonism movement, including the recommendation of whole grain cereal that led to the familiar name of Ralston Purina. I enjoyed your post!


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