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The (Questionable) Apple Cider Vinegar Legacy

The (Questionable) Apple Cider Vinegar Legacy

Celebrity advocates of Bragg’s products have included Tom Selleck, Gloria Swanson, The Beach Boys, and Clint Eastwood. Today Katy Perry is a part owner of the brand and is reportedly close friends with Patricia Bragg. Like many health gurus, the legacy of Bragg is more complicated than it’s nostalgic, wholesome label leads on. It’s not unusual for wellness personalities to be exalted and followed, not much unlike religious adherence. I can attest, that when you buy Braggs, you feel a little special for buying something SO crunchy. While there is little recorded about his life, Paul C Bragg seemed acutely aware of how he was going to attract a following to his supplements. 

When Paul Bragg began, he was selling many different supplements and regimens, often in big Baptist-Tent style gatherings. His type of salesmanship is where the expression “snake oil salesman” comes from. Purportedly he would take a pot on stage, and pour into chemicals found in white bread, and other foods, stir it all together and ask the audience who was ready to eat it. Gloria Swanson is reported to have come on stage as an endorsement, but details are murky at best. (RE: photo: He was not a Professor)

It's a challenge to put together Paul Bragg’s life, because he constantly lied about his age, background, and most personal details. According to birth records, it appears his father was a reporter and that he mostly grew up in the Washington DC area, yet Bragg told people his father was a farmer and that he oldest of 16 children. Birth records show he had two brothers. He lied about his age by decades and frequently changed it, a practice that seems consistent with health gurus building a brand. Claiming that they are a decade or two older than they really are sells the “fountain of youth” narrative that the product miraculously works. (I know as a previous Pilates instructor that Joseph Pilates is another health persona who constantly changed his age to sell his program). "You'd never guess I'm 102 but this serum makes me look and feel 60!" In 1934 an 18-year-old church musician sued Bragg for $100,000 alleging that he had attacked her two years prior.

The conclusion of the lawsuit is unknown, although that sum and the fact that someone came forward is extremely notable for the era. In 1952 Paul Bragg’s son, Robert E. Bragg, married Patricia Pendleton in Phoenix AZ. Patricia Pendleton is the daughter of Harry and Nettie Pendleton. It’s known that she attended UC Berkely for two years before her marriage, but in 2011 she told Santa Barbara Times that she earned a BA in biochemistry.

The Bragg website timeline shows Patricia taking an interest in helping run the Bragg store and getting involved in the business as “Paul Bragg’s adopted daughter in the late ‘50s”. Patricia Pendleton and Robert E Bragg’s marriage ended in 1957 following “Robert’s allegations linking his father to his wife”. Even today, Patricia never misses a chance to talk about her adopted father, who she is adamant formally adopted her while there is no formal documentation. She did claim an inheritance from her biological father when he passed. This image is of Paul with Patricia as she signed the divorce papers with Robert.

If you take a closer look at the Bragg label, there’s a photo of a happy, older, couple. That is Paul C Bragg and his “adopted daughter” in her iconic pink hat. She is never seen without the hat because one time Tom Selleck supposedly told her something along the lines of, “Your five feet tall, but with a hat your six feet tall.” Knowing the obvious age difference between Paul and Patricia, it’s a guess that the photo on the label is photoshopped with a picture of Paul from the ’70s with Patricia from the 2000’s to make them look similar in age. It's clear that her cut-out overlaps on top of his, so at a glance, it looks like they are next to each other but they are both cut-outs. 

Patricia has always held that there was a formal adoption, while the scarce bloggers looking into this have no record of the adoption. She has a tendency to ramble during interviews, answering most questions about herself by namedropping celebrities. To her credit, despite hoarding dolls, she grew the Bragg business far beyond what Paul C Bragg's expectations could have ever been. She is besties with Katy Perry. Online, I can't find anything on Robert Bragg.   We do have Paul C Bragg’s death certificate. Some who were close to Paul C Bragg say he was attacked by a shark while he was surfing at the age of 96. Patricia doesn’t acknowledge his death.

She says, “as far as I’m concerned, he’s not dead. He’s alive.” She inherited everything as his daughter while his biological kids got nothing as far as we know. The certificate shows that he died from a heart attack in Florida at the age of 81.

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