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The Great Masticator

Horace Fletcher (1849-1919)
The New Glutton, or Epicure (New York, F. A. Stokes company, 1903)
MU Libraries Depository
613.25 F63n

Horace Fletcher portrait
Image credit: Library of Congress

Horace Fletcher, a businessman and self-proclaimed nutritionist, became one of the best-known health-food faddists in turn-of-the-century America.  Beginning in 1895, Fletcher tirelessly promoted his system of eating, which became known as “Fletcherism.”

Fletcher believed that “the most important part of nutrition is the right preparation of food in the mouth for future digestion.”  Fletcherites chewed their food vigorously – up to 100 times per minute – until it was completely liquefied, and swallowing either became involuntary, or the eater chose to spit it out.  This regimen earned Fletcher the nickname “The Great Masticator.”

Fletcher believed that prolonged chewing would allow absorption of nutrients, but keep dieters from gaining weight.  However, he was more focused on the mechanics of eating than he was on food choices.  “Taste is evidence of nutrition,” advised Fletcher, and allowed his followers to eat any type of food, as long as it was chewed properly. 

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