A diet in the cards

The Hub and I were on a closet-cleaning binge recently. These binges seem to strike in the winter, when we manage to get bored enough to actually see cleaning as a fun activity. We spent some time mulling over how many editions of Monopoly we really need before ending up keeping them all, from the original through British, San Francisco  and Star Wars versions. Then we found a small deck of playing cards.

Boy, would these cards make a poker game a downer. Each card has a photograph of a snack food along with the calorie count. I might drop my royal flush if I noticed that the seven cashews I just ate were 115 calories. And of course one only eats seven cashews.

There’s pretzels, popcorn, caramels, potato chips (one, 11 calories). A petit four for the queen, a delicate 95 calories. The backs are a pattern of pill capsules.

The Hub recognized the cards immediately. His father was a doctor, and drug reps would leave all kinds of promotional trinkets.

The cards, called an Eska-Deck, were produced in 1969 for SmithKline & French, which later merged with GlaxoSmithKline. Because of the deck’s name, I’m wondering if it was intended to promote SKF’s  late-1960s diet drug Eskatrol. According to what I could find online, the drug, an amphetamine, was removed from the market in the early ’80s by the FDA, but not before it found its way into a Jimmy Buffett song.: “Get a bottle of rum and an Eskatrol and watch the same thing happen to you.” – “Fool Button,” Son of a Son of a Sailor, 1978.

The very same album also includes “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” which brings us all the way back around to food. But none of the Eska-Deck cards include a burger. Fortunately.