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Cho Cho the Health Clown


Today there are a growing number of trends and diets that are supposed to help Americans, especially children, get healthier. From avoiding carbs to eliminating transfats, some people have tried everything. Or have they?

On this date in 1920, Bismarck was trying to promote health another way: with Cho Cho the Health Clown. At four performances over two days, Cho Cho would be at the Bismarck City Auditorium to “carry his message of health and good cheer.”

Cho Cho was sponsored by the Women’s Club, the County Home Demonstration Department and other organizations. In speaking about the event, Elsie Stark, a Home Demonstration agent, said: “It is a fact that 15 percent of our children are suffering from malnutrition not so much from eating too little as from eating and drinking the wrong kind of foods. To remedy this, we must have the co-operation of both parents and child, and they must be eager to make the necessary gain. Cho Cho, the health clown, and a pair of scales on which each child can be weighed once a month will go a long way toward bringing the desired result.”

Cho Cho promoted several elementary rules:

  1. A full bath more often than once a week.
  2. Brushing the teeth at least once every day.
  3. Sleeping long hours with windows open.
  4. Drinking as much milk as possible, but with no tea or coffee.
  5. Eating some vegetables or fruit every day.
  6. Drinking at least four glasses of water every day.
  7. Playing part of every day out of doors.
  8. A bowel movement every morning.

According to the Bismarck Tribune, very few methods had been successful in addressing child malnutrition, and it was thought that Cho Cho could supply children with an incentive to improve their health with “pills of wisdom and good advice concealed in a sugar coating of jest and merriment administered by the universal favorite of all children, a real, sure ‘nough circus clown.”
Whether or not Cho Cho was effective in 1920, he would have had a harder time today. For those who suffer from coulrophobia … the irrational fear of clowns … perhaps all Cho Cho could accomplish would be scaring them to health!

By Tessa Sandstrom


“Cho Cho the Health Clown who will be here May 21 and 22 to tell and show the children of Burleigh County what to eat in order to keep healthy,” Bismarck Tribune. May 6, 1920: 6.

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