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Doctors Treating Patients with Ketchup!?

Imagine you are suffering from a bout of intense nausea and vomiting. You decide to check in with your doctor, and he pulls out a bottle of ketchup pills and advises you to take two per day to cure your ailment. This may seem like something out of an alternate universe, but in the year1834, a Dr. John Cook Bennett began selling concentrated ketchup pills to treat diarrhea, vomiting, and indigestion.

Dr. John Cook Bennett (pictured) is thought of as an early pioneer of the health benefits of tomato, and is responsible for the addition of tomato in ketchup.

Prior to Dr. Bennett's discovery of the health benefits of tomatoes, ketchup consisted of mushrooms or fish. Tomatoes were actually considered poisonous at the time! That was until 1820, when Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson of New Jersey scarfed down an entire basket of tomatoes on the steps of the town courthouse to prove that the fruit was safe to consume. By the 1830s, Americans began to regularly consume tomatoes, thus marking the beginning of the "tomato craze".

When entrepreneur Alexander Miles, creator of the patent medicine called the "American Hygiene Pill", came across Bennett’s research on tomatoes, he connected with Bennett and they created the "Extract of Tomato" pill to capitalize on the tomato craze. These ketchup pills became extremely popular across the country, in part thanks to many newspaper articles detailing people who were cured by the tomato pills. A 1843 article in the Boston Cultivator read, "We knew an instance of a very severe case of dyspepsia, of ten years standing, cured by the use of the tomato. The patient had been unable to get any relief; he could eat no fresh meat, nor boiled vegetables. Reading an account of the virtues of the tomato, he raised some, and used them as food in the fall, stewed, and made some in jelly for winter use. He was cured."

Eventually, scientists began further research of the health benefits of tomato and concluded that Miles and Dr. Bennett's claims about ketchup were nothing more than a money-grab and a hoax. Although Dr. Bennet claims about the health benefits of tomatoes were false, we can thank him for the creation of the tomato ketchup that we know today!

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