Joe Weider is undoubtedly a divisive figure in the history of bodybuilding. Influential to the nth degree regarding the modern climate of the sport, Weider has been continually criticised for selling snake oil supplements to a naive public.
Today’s post briefly examines Joe’s ‘Hell-Bent for Leather N’Lead’ product, a set of bracelets brought out by the Canadian entrepreneur in the early 1970s. Utilising the bodies of then Mr. Olympia Arnold Schwarzenegger and Mr. America Roger Callard, Weider promised incredible muscle gain and strength through the sheer act of wearing one of his patented bracelets.
Advertised alongside X-Ray glasses and sea-monkeys, the product was, unsurprisingly, ineffective. Nevertheless, Weider’s advertisements were forthright in their belief that his ‘Hell-Bent’ products were the real deal. In 1971, a Weider ad asked
ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH TO WEAR THEM?
Slip on these electrifying New “Hell-Bent for Leather N’ Lead” Strong Arm bracelets-and instantly, in a second, your arms start oozing 100% more power! Your body takes on the appearance of ferocious strength–striking fear and terror into anyone who even thinks of attacking you!
Your manhood and virility “comes alive” and across swiftly to women–they instantly sense your sexual power and want to be in your arms! And because of expert craftsmanship, these genuine leather and gold-toned lead weights-with the word P-O-W-E-R spelled out on each of them–are the latest in “MOD” fashions. They go well with all your clothes, turning them into vigorous looking styles! You “come alive” with muscle and sex appeal!
NO EXERCISE–NO SWEAT TO CREATE ARM POWER! Just wear them anywhere–anytime–and they turn every arm movement into an instant arm builder! They build ferocious, rugged power for any sport–yes, including KARATE! Go ahead, try them, Tiger! If you don’t turn on the power fast, return them for a full refund.
Fair? START NOW TO BECOME MORE OF A MAN IN SECONDS!
Male sexuality seemed to be at the core of Weider’s ad campaign as evidenced by another Arnold print
Weider didn’t stop there either. Seeking to mitigate against his growing losses, Weider even featured his bracelets on the front page of Muscle, a Weider bodybuilding magazine.
Thankfully Weider eventually got the message and stopped promoting such an obvious snake oil but not before thousands of teens had wasted their $14.95 on the bracelets. By the 1980s, the bracelets were finally put out to pasture.