Update: Memphis Health Guru Roy Noe Was Sued for Fraud by the U.S. Government for his "Graduated Exercisor"

Last week, I told you the compelling story of Memphian Roy H. Noe, who invented an exercise device that he claimed would not only build muscles but would improve your body in many ways.

Well, it seems the federal government purchased one of "Roy Noe's Graduated Exercisors" and didn't agree that stretching a giant rubber band — because that's essentially what it was — would do everything Noe claimed. In fact, as reader Lowell Templeton pointed out, back in the early 1940s the government actually charged him with fraud.

Among other things, in their official report summarizd here, they said, "The article was alleged to be misbranded." That's because Noe claimed that "it was the fastest waistline-reducing exercise known, would build health, eliminate constipation, massage and correct the pelvic organs and keep the prostate gland normal, correct gland trouble ..." — oh, it just goes on and on.

Okay, perhaps his claim that it would "feed the optic nerves" was a bit much.

I'm not sure what actually happened as a result of the charges. The government summary only says that since Noe didn't bother coming all the way to Washington, D.C., to defend himself, "a judgment of condemnation was entered, and the product was ordered delivered to a welfare organization after the destruction of the labeling."

Now that, in itself, is interesting. Even though the feds thought the gadget was useless, after they pulled off the "misleading" labels, they still gave it away to a "welfare organization." And Noe continued to make and sell these things until he finally passed away in the 1970s.

Government in action!

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Ask Vance is the blog of Vance Lauderdale, the award-winning columnist of Memphis magazine and Inside Memphis Business. Vance is the author of three books: Ask Vance: The Best Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History and Trivia Expert (2003), as well as Ask Vance: More Questions and Answers from Memphis Magazine's History Expert (2011) and Vance Lauderdale's Lost Memphis (2013). He is also the recipient of quite a few nice awards, the creator of several eye-catching wall calendars, and the only person we know with a vintage shock-treatment machine in his den. 

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