History of the Health Foods Movement Worldwide (1875-2021)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-45-8

Publication Date: 2021 July 30

Number of References in Bibliography: 2693

Earliest Reference: 1875

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This is a brief biography of Otto Carque, a sample of one of the health food pioneers, most of whom lived and worked in California. The source of each piece of information is in this book.

1866 July 11 – Otto Heinrich Carque is born in Wiesloch, Mannheim, Baden [Germany], the first child and Eldest son of Louis Carque (born 6 July 1836). Anna Zentner Carque (born about 1839), both born in France, perhaps in Alsace-Lorraine. Otto's first language was French.

Note: Alsace-Lorraine was part of Germany from 1871 to 1918, after which it was returned to France by the Treaty of Versailles.

1870 June 11 – When Otto was about age 4, his mother, Anna dies at age 31 in Wiesloch, Baden, leaving her husband with 3 young children: Otto, Anna and Elise. Otto later claimed his mother died 'because of the doctors,' causing him to reflect upon health, disease and death,..."

1873 – Otto's father, Louis/Ludwig, remarries to Elise Bopp; and they have two more children, Hermine (born 26 Dec. 1874; died 6 Dec. 1885) and Ludwig Eduard (born 20 April 1877). Thus Otto was the eldest of 5 brothers and sisters.

Clarke Irvine (Otto’s long-time close friend and admirer) recalled in Jan. 1935: “Handicapped with a weak physique, he early took up physical culture. It restored him, along with right living and natural foods, which he found remedied his acute constipation.

1887 – He arrives in New York City from Mannheim. There, recalls Benedict Lust, he was associated with Dr. Henry Lane, father of iridiagnosis in this country. Carque worked hard, and overcame many struggles.

1889 April 13 – Otto first arrives in the USA at Ellis Island, Port of New York. Later in 1889 he traveled to California for the first time. For the next seven years he stayed mostly in the United States, on a path to citizenship. But he returned to Germany once, we don't know for how long.

1892 Nov. 19 – Otto returns to the USA for the third time, traveling with his youngest brother Louis/Ludwig. On the passenger list, Otto gives his age as 26 and Louis gives his age as 24. Both say they are wine merchants. They had come to see the Chicago World's Fair (1 May 1893 to 30 Oct. 1893; officially named World's Columbian Exposition) in Chicago, Illinois. After that Otto lived in New York for some years.

1895 – By age 28 he had become a vegetarian. “He lived 15 years on raw foods, then fresh fruits and vegetables, varied occasionally with eggs, cheese and nut butters, unroasted...”

1896 July 27 – Otto is naturalized (becomes a citizen of the U.S.) in New York City. At the time he lived at 65 2nd Ave. He gave his occupation as “confectioner.” The witness to his naturalization was William Ulrich, a barber by profession.

1889 April 21 - Louis Eduard Carque, Otto's youngest brother, becomes a U.S. citizen, with Otto as his witness.

1904 – Otto’s first two books are published by Kosmos Publishing Co. in Chicago: (1) The Foundation of All Reform: A Guide to Health, Wealth and Freedom (66 + vi p.). An Appeal to Common Sense (15 + iv p.). Each is outstanding, advocating vegetarianism and natural foods. In the 2nd book Otto becomes the first American to use the term “natural foods” (plural).

Otto Carque continued to use the terms “natural foods” and “natural food” throughout his life, even though his colleagues preferred the terms “health foods” and “health food.” Starting in 1922, in advertisements in the Los Angeles Times, he referred to his line of products (mostly dried fruits and nuts) as “Natural Foods of California.” In 1925 he wrote and published a 359-page book titled Natural Foods: The Safe Way to Health. By 1931 he had renamed his company “Carque Natural Foods” and by 1935 a huge sign across the top of his food factory spelled out the company name.

1905 – Carque arrives in California from the East and settles in Los Angeles. In the fall, he begins his work with food or beverages by putting up 25,000 gallons of unfermented grape juice using a new method he invented (Los Angeles Times. 1906. Aug. 19, p. VI15).

1906 – Carque now has a little store in Los Angeles which, it is later said, “sowed the seed of Natural Foods in Los Angeles” (Los Angeles Times. 1926. Oct. 31).

1912 Jan. 18 – Carque runs his first ad in a California newspaper (Los Angeles Times): “Wanted – Boy with wheel to assist in manufacturing of health foods. Vegetarian preferred.” Clearly, he wants to start a business.

1912 Aug. 15 – Announcement that “Carque Pure Food Company” has been incorporated. “Incorporators: Otto Carque, Edward Zeller, Harold D. Smith, Madeline Ronstand, Albert Maas; capital stock, $25,000; subscribed, $50."

1912 Nov. 13 – An ad announces that Carque is now selling his unsulphured Mission Figs at a Los Angeles grocery store (Walter E. Smith Co.). By March 1913 he is advertising his Black Mission Figs in a New York magazine.

1917 – Carque's Pure Food Co. first appears at 1605-1607 South Magnolia Ave., Los Angeles, California. They specialize in sun-dried black mission figs, and have a complete line of selected California dried fruits, nuts, nut butters, etc. He advertises that he sells “pure natural food products.”

1920 June – An ad by Carque mentions that he now grinds flour using his own mill, and that he has a line of products, described in a circular with price list.

1921 May 1 – He now has a store at 2618 West Seventh Street in Los Angeles.

1922 MarchNatural Foods of California, by Otto Carqué is published by Carqué Pure Food Co. in Los Angeles (21 p. 22 cm tall).

1922 June 11 – First mention of “The Carque Shop” and of “Natural Foods of California,” a Carque registered trademark.

1925 Sept. – Natural Foods: The Safe Way to Health, by Otto Carqué, is published by Carqué Pure Food Co., Inc., Los Angeles, California (359 pages, 20 cm tall).

1925 Oct. 1 – Carque is now located in The Natural Foods Building, 729 Seward St., Los Angeles.

1925 Nov. 22 – Carque's California fruits and nuts, are now sold in metal holiday gift canisters at the Ville de Paris in Los Angeles. They are “packed in Los Angeles at the unique Carque factory...”

1926 July 4 – Carque now has a food shop at 831 South Flower St. in downtown Los Angeles.

1926 Oct. 31 – Carque now has a shop at 6411½ Hollywood Blvd. in downtown Los Angeles. He now has three shops. Hollywood Boulevard, which includes the famous Hollywood theater district, is a fashionable address.

1927 Nov. 6 – While on a lecture tour in New York City, Otto Carque (age 59 and still a bachelor) meets his bride to be, Lillian Reicher. She moves to California, where he employs her to assists him in the reorganization of his business, Carque Pure Food Company. They are married on Nov. 6, 1927 in Los Angeles. She becomes ever more actively involved with his work and business.

1928 MarchMrs. Carqué’s Recipe Book, by Lillian R. Carque, is published in Los Angeles by Otto Carque (32 pages, 15 cm tall). It advocates a “fruitarian as well as a vegetarian dietary.” The recipes call for many Carque brand products by name – such as: Carque's Almond Butter, Carque's Black Mission Figs, Carque's California Dates, Carque's California Honey, Carque's California Olive Oil, Carque's Celery Salt, Carque's Cracked Wheat, Carque's Deglet Noor Dates, Carque's Dried Apricots, Carque's Fig Paste, Carque's French Dressing, Carque's Gem Peanut Butter, Carque's Granulated Agar, Carque's Lentil Flour, Carque's Natural Whole Rice [brown rice], Carque's Nut Cream Butter, Carque's Nut Fruto, Carque's Nuts, Carque's Onion Salt, Carque's Orange Blossom Honey, Carque's Peanut Butter Dressing, Carque's Peanut Meal, Carque's Pecan Meal, Carque's Pitted Dates, Carque Powdered C-Leaves, Carque's Prunola Dressing, Carque's Raw Hawaiian Sugar, Carque's Ripe Olives, Carque's Savory Nut Loaf, Carque's Seeded Muscat Raisins, Carque's Seedless Raisins, Carque's Shredded Cocoanut, Carque's Soya Bean Flour, Carque's Thompson Seedless Raisins, Carque's Unsulphured Dried Peaches, Carque's Unsulphured Dried Pears, Carque's Whole Wheat Macaroni.

Lillian R. Carqué was born in 1899.

1929 Oct 29 – Stock market crash heralds the Great Depression.

1930The Key to Rational Dietetics: Fundamental Facts about the Prevention of Disease, the Preservation of Health, the Prolongation of Life. New, revised and enlarged ed., by Otto Carqué is published by the author in Los Angeles (151 p., 24 cm. tall).

1933 May 30 – Carque announces that he is closing his retail shop on Hill Street and moving to 1315 South Maple Ave., in Glendale, where he will do wholesale business only. This small announcement marks the first appearance of Carque in California Health News, published in Hollywood by his friend and admirer, Clarke Irvine.

1933Vital Facts about Foods: A Guide to Health and Longevity with 200 Wholesome Recipes and Menus and 250 Complete Analyses of Foods, by Otto Carqué is published by the author in Los Angeles (208 pages; 24 cm tall) . Several subsequent editions were published.

1935 Jan. 9 - Carque dies at age 69 of traffic accident injuries. He was walking across a street in a so-called “safety zone” when he was struck by distracted woman motorist. Final rites are conducted on Jan. 12 at the Hollywood Cemetery chapel. He leaves his widow at the family residence, 1315 Maple avenue.

There is a huge outpouring of love for Otto Carque both here and in the pages of California Health News and in an obituary by Philip M. Lovell in the Los Angeles Times (Feb. 10) who called him the “the first pioneer in the California pure food movement” and “great scientist, a thinker, an idealist, a lover of mankind.

“Otto Carque's name on food was virtually a warranty of its purity. He was the first to storm against the chemical pollution of foods – their adulteration with various vicious preservatives.

“He was a co-worker with great men, carrying on an active correspondence and joint endeavor with men of the stamp of the late the head [Harvey W. Wiley] of the Bureau of Chemistry of the nation [1901-1912], a man who has done perhaps as much as anyone in the world to better the food conditions of America.

“He had a keener knowledge of soils, of foods and their values, of ways and methods of maintaining good health through diet, than perhaps any other man in this country.

“In spite of his being nearly 70 years of age, one could find him doing his fourteen to sixteen hours' work each day, supervising, directing, and doing the manual labor incident to distribution of his foods which have reached nationwide circulation.

“He was the author of several extraordinarily fine books which have been read by scores of thousands...”

Clark Irvine invites anyone who has recollections of Otto Carque to send them to California Health News. He will publish them, and they will gradually constitute a biography.

1935 Jan. – Mrs. Carque carries on the work of her late husband, which is extremely complex and demanding. Often working late into the night, and very early in the mornings, he “did research work, financial matters, was main buyer, and supervised the production, while she attended to the business end.”

1937 July – After trying for more than two years to do the work of two people, Carque's food manufacturing company, for some time poised near bankruptcy, is sold by his wife to the Confection Co. of California. Mrs. Lillian Carque will act as publicity director.

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