Photo of a Zerret Applicator (flickr/fdaphotos)
|Medical Claims||Health and well-being restored via relaxation therapy and "Z-rays"|
The Zerret Applicator is a device consisting of two conjoined plastic spheres (frequently compared to a dumbbell) containing a tube of a substance called "Zerret water" that, when held with one hand on each sphere (and legs uncrossed) for a prescribed time period, would allegedly generate "Z-rays" to "expand all the atoms of one's being", purportedly balancing life forces and inducing relaxation to cure the user of a variety of ailments. It was invented and manufactured by William Ferguson, with sales managed by his associate, Mary Stanakis, both of whom were ultimately charged and found guilty of "sending a misbranded article interstate" for their troubles; at trial, a government chemist tasked with investigating the device found the "Zerret water" to be ordinary tap water.
The device was one of several singled out for denouncement as fraudulent in a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) public service announcement video aimed at senior citizens, in which actor Raymond Massey states that "there are no z-rays."
- FDA PSA video featuring Raymond Massey, c. 1950: https://archive.org/details/fda_quackery_psa
- Simmons, Patti (9 March 1954), "Medical Quacks Are Fooling You In Atomic Age", Freeport Journal-Standard (Freeport, Illinois): 7, https://www.newspapers.com/newspage/4230446/, retrieved 2016-12-16, "Z-Rays Expand Atoms To cure disease, said the directions, a patient had only to sit, without crossing his knees, holding the dumbbell, one knob in each hand, for 30 minutes at a time. This $50 "toy" was loaded with "Zerret Water" which was said to give forth "Z-rays." The maker claimed his treatment would "expand all the atoms of one's being.""
- 3157. Misbranding of Ferguson's Zerret Applicator. U. S. v. William R. Ferguson (Ferguson's Zerret Applicator), Mary A. Stanakis. (nih.gov) — "Pleas of not guilty having been entered on behalf of the defendants, the case came on for trial before the court and jury on May 10, 1950. The trial was concluded on May 17, 1950, at which time the jury returned a verdict of guilty against each defendant. A motion for a new trial was filed on behalf of the defendants on May 18, 1950, and was denied on May 22, 1950. On the latter date, the court imposed jail sentences of 2 years against William R. Ferguson and 1 year against Mary A. Stanakis."
- "MEDICAL QUACKS FOUND GUILTY IN FEDERAL TRIAL", Chicago Tribune (Chicago, Illinois): 17, 19 May 1950, http://archives.chicagotribune.com/1950/05/19/page/17/article/medical-quacks-found-guilty-in-federal-trial, retrieved 2016-12-16, "William R. Ferguson, 49, a former cab driver, and Mrs. Mary Stanakis, 50, were found guilty yesterday of sending a misbranded article thru interstate commerce in connection of Ferguson's so-called healing device known as the Zerret Applicator[...] Ferguson claimed that his gadget had certain healing powers but a government chemist testified the applicator contained nothing but ordinary tape water and that the one he examined also had some added particles of house dust."