Vintage fat-shaming weight loss ads from Ry-Krisp, 1930-1950

Ry-Krisp, a brand of rye crisp bread, was founded by Arvid and Erik Peterson, who immigrated to the United States from Sweden, and brought with them a recipe for traditional Swedish “crisp bread.”

Crisp bread or knackerbrod was a staple of the 19th-century Scandinavian diet. It was often made of rye, required no yeast, and had an incredible shelf life.

In fact, this type of cracker was traditionally produced only twice a year and was made with a hole in the center so that they could be efficiently stored on a single rod.

While their early ads appealed to Scandinavian immigrants who found comfort in eating the traditional rye crackers, the brand later changed its strategy after being sold to Purina in 1926.

According to Pretty Sweet magazine, starting in the 1930s, Rye-Krisp heavily advertised their products as a “reducing” (another word for “weight loss”) product in magazines that were marketed to women and young girls.

The marketing team at Ry-Krisp usually focused on timeless and effective themes like, “your husband is going to leave you for a skinny girl,” and “caddie girls are going to laugh at your fat ass if you don’t buy our product.

For years they even ran ads like, “Nobody loves a fat girl,”  in Seventeen magazine. In this article, we’ve collected offensive, fat-shaming vintage magazine advertisements from the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s for Ry-Krisp crackers.

Several 1940s Ry-Krisp ads were drawn by popular cartoonists from the New Yorker magazine. Ry-Krisp was a sponsor of 1940s radio shows featuring famed New York hostess Elsa Maxwell and opera star Marion Talley.

In 1994, the Ralston portion of Ralston Purina was spun off into a new company called Ralcorp Holdings, including the RyKrisp operations. Ralcorp was acquired by ConAgra Foods in 2013.

In January 2015 ConAgra Foods announced that the factory that produces RyKrisp would be shuttered and the product would be discontinued due to declining demand. The last batches of the cracker were made at the Minneapolis factory in March 2015.

RyKrisp Inc. bought the brand in April 2015 with plans to revitalize it once a new manufacturing partner is found. A larger-scale commercialization was planned for October 2015 with commercial production expected sometime after that.

As of fall 2021, production did not start. The owners of the RyKrisp brand gave legal issues as a reason.

(Photo credit: Prettysweet.com / Flickr / Mnopedia.org / Wikimeda Commons).