Throughout the history of advertising, we have been lured into trying products that are anything but good for us. Sometimes this was due to ignorance: the real effects of consumption weren’t known at the time a new “miracle” product was developed. Other times, manufacturers and advertisers just chose to ignore the downsides. Like in the promotion of lead paint.
The most heartbreaking part of this 1923 brochure is its emphasis on kids having fun with the whole “Lead Family” of products, whose presence in everything from their nursery walls to their windup toys made young children particularly susceptible to its dangers. Combined with lead paint’s seductively sweet flavor, putting kids in environments literally covered with the stuff was a recipe for disaster.
In fact, the effects of lead poisoning (brain damage, seizures, hypertension, etc.) were known long before the Consumer Product Safety Commission finally banned them in 1977; the industry had simply refused to acknowledge them.
What were they thinking? See the other product advertisements that were downright dangerous in a collaborative list from Collectors Weekly at mental_floss.