Make your food radioactive? Of course, that wasn’t the idea — they didn’t even realize how dangerous the recently-discovered chemical element radium was. It was a new scientific advance — and the stuff glowed! — and that’s why “x-radium” was the big marketing buzzword of the time.

Well, we know how well that worked out: “Exposure to higher levels of radium over a long period of time may result in harmful effects including anemia, cataracts, fractured teeth, cancer (especially bone cancer), and death. Some of these effects may take years to develop and are mostly due to gamma radiation. Radium gives off gamma radiation, which can travel fairly long distances through air. Therefore, just being near radium at the high levels that may be found at some hazardous waste sites may be dangerous to your health.” – Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

Here’s a look back to an ad published around 1905 to promote X-Radium cookware made with radium-infused clay. The fact that the print size was large and it was produced in color suggests there was a lot of money behind this brand at some point. (It was apparently only around for a very short time, because this advertisement from the US Library of Congress is the only mention of it we can find.)

Alas, it wasn’t the only dangerous radium-enhanced product on the market. Among several others was Radium face cream & face powder. It’s kind of hard to decide which concept was worse.

1905 - X-radium cookware

X-radium cookware: The latest and most scientific cooking utensils yet produced.

Housekeepers: In presenting this circular, we wish to call your attention to our X-Radium Cooking Utensils

The latest and most scientific cooking utensils yet produced.

For cleanliness, healthfulness and general usefulness, and every advantage that tends to perfect cooking, they have no equal.

X-radium cookware from 1905

The material from which these utensils are made is a scientific preparation of X-radium mineral clay

Thoroughly mixed and ground by improved, powerful, modern machinery and tempered in a very intense heat (2200 degrees) for 72 hours.

The EXCELLENCE of this ware is due to the ORIGINALITY, SIMPLICITY and HEALTHFULNESS of the materials, also to the care and skill with which it is manufactured PROCESS known only to the X-RADIUM COOKING UTENSIL CO.


“DDT is good for me-e-e!” (1947)


Several attempts have been made to produce fireproof earthen and stoneware cooking utensils, but the designs so far introduced have met with little success, as it is impossible to make a fireproof utensil from common clay. Agate, granite and porcelain-lined vessels have much receded in favor, owing to their aptness to chip off and tendency to burn food. There is no doubt that many unaccountable illnesses are due to the use of unsanitary cooking vessels.

X-radium cooking utensils Make your food radioactive! (1905)

X-radium cookware safe from careless household workers

Our X-Radium cooking utensils are free from these imperfections. The pure white lining is burned into the flay in such a manner as to render it absolutely proof against acids and impervious to grease, and will never come off, even when accidentally allowed to boil dry, a feature which renders it especially helpful when used by careless help. Wherever our Ware has been introduced, it has given general satisfaction. It is endorsed by the medical faculty and professors of cookery.

Our new process used in the manufacture of this ware and the large quantities in which it is produced, together with our means of supplying it direct from factory to family enables us to offer it as a price which renders it exceedingly cheap.


About this story

Filed under: 1900s, Food & drink, Home & garden, Science & technology, Vintage advertisements

Click for more on these topics: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.