Benjamin Gayelord Hauser (1895 – 1984) was born Helmut Eugen Benjamin Gellert Hauser in Tubingen, Germany and arrived on Ellis Island in August 1911, to join his older brother Otto, a pastor in Chicago.
Not long after his arrival, the brothers moved to Milwaukee, where he was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the hip. Pre-antibiotics, this was often fatal. NCBI Resources has a retrospective study in their archives, showing that the condition was much more serious than the name suggests. There are diagrams and x-rays.
Tuberculosis of the hip – NCBI
Wikipedia states that Hauser consulted a naturopath, Dr Benjamin Lust, who advocated warm baths, clay packs and herbal remedies. Hauser, writing in Diet Did It, doesn’t mention Dr Lust at all.
He skips from boy dying in Evangelical Deaconess Hospital, Chicago, to Switzerland, also without mentioning Brother Maier, the monk who put Hauser on a strict Nahrungswissen (Natural Science) diet. In Diet Did It an old man visits his family among the “snow-capped mountains “. and tells Hauser that “only living foods can make a living body”. The anonymous old man, championed lemons, oranges and other tree fruits, as well as “young growing things, especially the green and yellow vegetables “
Helmut Hauser, (as he was then) adopted this way of eating and made a miraculous recovery. Hauser doesn’t detail what he got up to during WW1, but at the end of the war, at 23 years old, he began travelling, to consult with people working in the field of nutrition. Dr Pirquet in Vienna for Mem Theory (later Caloric Theory). Dr Maximillian Bircher-Benner MD in Zurich, for ‘sunlight foods’ and yes, muesli. The food chemist Ragnar Berg, in Dresden, with whom he later wrote Dictionary of Foods. In Copenhagen, Hauser consulted Dr Mikkel Hindhede, manager of the Danish National Laboratory for Nutrition Research.
After changing his name, Hauser set off for Chicago again, founding a school of dietetics. At first, Gayelord Hauser and his staff worked to help people who were sick, because of bad diets. They became overwhelmed and decided to go with the old maxim ‘prevention is better than cure’. Gayelord Hauser started lecture tours, to spread the word.
Eventually, Hauser wrote a daily column entitled ‘Your Food and You’ which was syndicated in newspapers across the USA, by King Features, generating 10,000 letters per week.
Gayelord Hauser was scoffed at and called a quack, but many people now recognise him as a pioneer in the Natural Food movement in America. As he points out himself, in Diet Does It All, there weren’t any schools of nutrition, when he started out. In the UK, for example, Professor John Yudkin, was the first Professor of Nutrition, when the Department of Nutrition at Queen Elizabeth College, University of London, was opened in 1954 .
in 1925, Hauser joined his brother-in-law, Sebastian Gysin, in Modern Products Inc company which still exists, with a Gayelord Hauser range. evitamins.com ships a few Gayelord Hauser products to the UK. and we have ordered the Gayelord Hauser Spike Original Natural Seasoning
Since 1971, there has been a separate Gayelord Hauser Dieteticien company in France, selling a range of products which include juices, ready meals, konjac noodles and jam.
If you live in France, the website has details of the stores selling Gayelord Hauser products in your town. In the UK, French Click offers a small selection of the products The prices of some of the French products on Amazon UK are horrendous eg £20 for a bag of konjac with £48 for delivery !
Those who bought Diet Does It got a book which included The Gayelord Hauser Cook-Book which made 15 shillings in the UK in 1952, seem good value for money. In the recipes, Hauser mentions vegetable salt in almost every recipe, and this is Veg-Sal or Spike, available from the US.
It’s extremely simple, just 1 cup each of finely shredded celery and carrots, half a cup of shredded spinach, 1 tablespoon of minced parsley, 1 tsp of his vegetable salt, 1 quart (32 fluid ounces or 0.95 litres) cold water and “herbs to suit taste”. This is the base Hauser uses for most soups and stews.
Hauser used a lot of blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, skimmed milk powder and yogurt, which he considered “wonder foods”. He wasn’t a low carber, but he didn’t advocate eating “empty starches” such as white flour and white sugar. He lumped them in with vinegar, lard, white salt and “irritating spices” as being “foodless foods”..
When Hauser used wheat flour in recipes, it was whole-wheat and he also used gluten-free soya flour, making some of his baked goods, gluten-free. Quite a few of his sauces are low carb and gluten free.
Hauser thought that Americans cooked the life out of vegetables and told them to “short-cook” them, like Chinese restaurants.
In 1927, Hauser moved to California and when he had been there ten years, he visited England, writing for the Daily Mail giving lectures and advising the celebrities of the day in London and Paris. These included Fred Astaire’s sister Lady Charles Cavendish, former flamenco dancer, Princess Prem Kaur of Kapurthala, the newly married Duchess of Windsor (formerly Wallis Simpson) and actress and decorator, Lady Mendl.
Hauser was retained to advise on Greta Garbo’s nutrition for the movie Ninotchka, Garbo’s penultimate movie. Gayelord Hauser and the actress became friends.
For more than thirty years, whenever Garbo visited California, she stayed in a guest house on Gayelord Hauser’s three acre estate in the Beverly Hills Post Office neighbourhood. When Gayelord Hauser died in 1984, he left the one storey French Regency-style house with swimming pool overlooking Coldwater Canyon, to his nephew Tony Palermo and wife Nellie, in Milwaukee. The house was listed for sale in 1989 at $2.3 million USD.
In the 1990s, letters which Greta Garbo wrote to Gaylord Hauser, were auctioned at Christie’s. Excerpts can be read at Garbo Forever
In 1950, Hauser had a villa built near Taormina, in Sicily. He owned the villa until the death of his partner, Frey Brown, in 1979. It was sold and is now a holiday villa (albeit upmarket) named Villa Greta. Tripping Sicily Villa Greta When Hauser owned the villa, Garbo was a regular visitor. Other guests included Tennessee Williams, Lana Turner, Gloria Vanderbilt, Truman Capote, Joan Crawford, Marlene Dietrich and Rita Crawford (Princess Aly Khan).
Gayelord Hauser’s celebrity clientele included Gloria Swanson, Jeanne Moreau, Paulette Goddard (Mrs Erich Maria Remarque), Queen Alexandra of Yugoslavia, Grace Kelly (Princess Grace of Monaco-, Ingrid Bergman, and Baron Philippe de Rothschild.
Hauser wrote nineteen books, many of which were translated into twelve languages. Certainly, he was a best-selling author, in his day, selling around 40 million books by the time he reached eighty years old . So much so that Groucho Marx, Danny Kaye, Jane Wyman and Jimmy Durante, released a song entitled ‘Black Strap Molasses’ , in 1951, about his diet.
A large portion of Diet Does It talks about nutrition. Some of this information may be out of date now. At the time, Hauser certainly named a lot of doctors and scientists undertaking research.
If you can find a reasonably priced copy of New Health Cookery (1930), The Gayelord Hauser Cook Book (1946) or Diet Does It (1952 version with The Gayelord Hauser Cook Book) they are certainly worth a look if you like whole foods, a gluten-free diet or low carb. There are still plenty of copies around in secondhand book shops, Amazon and eBay.
Gayelord Hauser received honorary degrees from the Argentina School of Nutrition, Buenos Aires and the Universite Philtechnique in Brussels, Belgium. Somewhat bizarrely, there’s a statue for Gayelord Hauser, in Kyoto, Japan.
Gayelord Hauser on his TV show with Jessica Dragonette, in December 1951.