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frankly my leo, i've had it
way back in the early 80s between college semesters i worked at a place called lee nutrition in kendall square. it was a mail order vitamin and supplement company whose ads were in publications like reader's digest. they looked like the ads that used to be on the back cover of comic books with a little panel to cut out and send away for stuff:

bob lee was indeed a real person although i can find no information on him now. lee nutrition was sold to another vitamin company sometime in the 90's. when i worked there they had a small store downstairs and the warehouse and office were on the top floor. (as employees we were allowed one free yogurt soft serve cone a day.) bob lee himself evinced no interest in the so called health food his store sold but rather stayed all day in a closed office eating burger king and mars bars. more of a figure head and the star of the ads, the company was run by guy named frank and someone named leo.i may be wrong but i think mrs. bob lee managed the store

the main customers of lee nutrition were from middle america not the hippies and progressives we now associate with'health food'. they were quite.... interactive... and often sent letters, very long letters(and even photos)complaining, praising or bitching about their orders or the UN or assorted vast conspiracies that had nothing to do with vitamins, bee pollen or protein powder. and many of them had really odd names so we were forever stealing the shipping labels and collecting them along with the letters and photos. i still have this stuff- artifacts of another time and place.

if you had about 2 brain cells firing away you were a fucking genius at lee nutrition so you were pretty much instantly promoted to inspector once you proved you could read the pill bottles and manage to stuff them into a bin. basically you took a stack of orders, filled them by placing them on a metal conveyor belt where they were inspected and then mailed. it was a sad place. all the inspectors were in college or college drop outs and we spent the days wondering why we were at lee nutrition, stealing stuff and building a large collage on the back wall of things the customers sent in. it was brain numbing- i used to go home with the orders reeling about my head( b-16 50 mg 250/ e 50omg 100....). many of the order pickers were simply incapable of doing the job. some spent their entire 8 hours on one order getting it wrong and redoing it over and over. one guy in particular never, ever got an order right. he would melt down when you brought his bin back to him so we took to just correcting all his orders ourselves because it was easier than watching him flip out.and i guess we felt bad for him as the company did because they never fired him.

occasionally they did promotions were you got a free gift when you ordered a certain amount. the gifts were usually vitamins but every once and awhile it was something incongruous- like a plastic cuckoo clock and my personal favorite- a fruit cake. one day when i was doing my chief inspector slot and no one was getting their orders right i beat one of the fruitcakes with a broom stick in the middle of the factory floor.it didn't cause much damage to the fruit cake.

so in the spirit of the season i offer this: mr. santa claus. mr. santa claus was one of our most prolific correspondents, sending us mountains of cards and letters which always mentioned his all raw meat diet. one of the inspectors always had to fill his orders because his usually handwritten forms were illegible. heaven help the fool who forgets mr. santa's ginseng even if no one could read is fucking order forms.

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Went looking for info on Lee Nutrition

This is fascinating. My brother and I would order vitamins from Lee Nutrition in our teens around 1993-1995 (we got into health pretty early in life).

I saw the ad for Lee Nutrition in a magazine my grandpa owned. They were cheaper than the health food store that we would go to before we found Lee. I actually have a few of the blue and white catalogs saved. The catalogs always looked so old-fashioned, and out of date even then. I can kind of still smell the alfalfa tabs I bought from Lee, as well as the whey and oat bran tablets.

One time my brother and I took these photos of our cats with vitamin bottles and probably a catalog or two - and we sent them to you guys. Maybe you saw them lol. We were half trolling, half serious. When I went to order again in 2000 I noticed they were bought out by Puritan's Pride.

I always wondered about Bob Lee. He looked kind of sketchy in the catalogs and his age seemed hard to determine.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

Re: Went looking for info on Lee Nutrition

so glad someone has any recollection of Lee Nutrition. it was one of those summer jobs i had between years at college- early/mid 80s.
( the whole factory floor smelled like those alfalfa tabs, btw.)
for many of us, the highpoint of the day was finding a strange , ranty letter or- oh, god- photos! we of course kept them for ourselves or they joined the huge collage on the back wall. i still have art people there made on backs of cartons which i have been meaning to scan and set free on the internet. no doubt, your cats and their vitamins made someone's day at Lee Nutrition. i assure you a worker kept the photo.
i eventually became a baker and in the 90s i went to work for a local chain restaurant/bakery. they had a location in Kendall Square, Cambridge and- yes- it was in space formally occupied by Lee Nutrition.
oh, the mystery of life.

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