I like to thumb through old newspapers—doesn’t everybody? –and recently came across this ad in the June 29, 1900 edition of the Salt Lake Herald.
I marveled at the thought that Salt Lake City once was the nexus of bicycle racing in America, and at how the Salt Palace, now just a dingy old convention center, was home to the best velodrome in the country. For only 10 cents I could see a five mile professional race, the terrific Australian Pursuit and other grand amateur events. Then to top off an already perfect evening, they’ll throw in two Vaudeville performances after the racing. That’s what I call a dependable show.
Then I noticed the ad immediately below the Salt Palace ad and can’t help but wonder if the Terrible Swede and the Red Devil weren’t the target market.
MANHOOD RESTORED "CUPIDENE" This great Vegetable Vitalizer, the prescription of a famous French physician, will quickly cure you of all Pains in the Back, Seminal Emissions, Nervous Debility, Pimples, Unfitness to Marry, Exhausting Drains, Varicocele and Constipation. It stops all losses by day or night. Prevents quickness of discharge, which if not checked leads to Spermatorrhoea and all the horrors of impotency. CUPIDENE cleanses the liver, the kidneys and the urinary organs of all impurities. CUPIDENE strengthens and restores small weak organs.
But even more horrifying is the juxtaposition of these two ads. Is it just an unfortunate coincidence or is the myth that cycling causes impotence over a century old? If it’s the latter, why is there always a French Doctor involved when cyclists turn to drugs to enhance their performance? Either way, after a race season like the one I just finished my manhood needs restoring. I wanna try some of that CUPIDENE!