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Amway Forever: The Amazing Story of a Global Business Phenomenon by Kathryn A. Jones

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Selling Nutrilite

While Jay and Rich had been away on their South American adventure, Jay’s cousin Neil Maskaant had sold Jay’s parents a dietary supplement called Nutrilite. The product was the idea of Carl F. Rehnborg, who, as a young adventurer himself, had lived in China in the years after World War I until the late 1920s. During his travels from Shanghai to outlying provinces, he noticed that poor, rural Chinese people who ate mostly vegetables and unrefined rice seemed healthier than people who could afford meat and refined foods. Rehnborg was interested in the Chinese culture’s tradition of holistic medicine and philosophy of balance in all things. While in the United States, he had worked for Carnation and persuaded the milk company to form a subsidiary to sell canned milk in China. Osteoporosis, the debilitating, degenerative bone disease that is partly attributed to a lack of calcium, was common and Chinese people rarely drank milk. The Chinese didn’t particularly care for the taste, and milk upset many stomachs. Rehnborg had seen Carnation research indicating that cows fed alfalfa and water produced the most milk and had shiny coats, so he concluded alfalfa must be a “super food.” What was lacking in the diets of the people who had more money to spend on food was the nutrients found in plants, he concluded. Upon returning and settling in California, he began to experiment with a plant-based supplement. By 1939, he had a full-time vitamin business called Nutrilite Products ...

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