I’m a Fat Boy Now

In 1920, a young boy in Rockport, New Jersey named Teddy Ryder was diagnosed with diabetes. He was not expected to live. His parents, Mildred and Earl Ryder, sought out Dr. Frederick Madison Allen, who placed Teddy on the Allen starvation diet. Bland foods weighed in appropriate portions was Teddy’s new diet, a diet that would only prolong his life for a few more years at most. Mildred and Earl watched their son starve for two years, waiting—hoping—for a better treatment. As luck would have it, as they waited and as they hoped, Dr. Frederick Banting—along with Charles Best, Dr. James Collip, and Professor John Macleod—discovered and purified insulin.

In early 1922, the Ryder family learned of this discovery, and through a family connection, found a way to convince Banting to take on Teddy as a patient. Mildred took Teddy from their home in New Jersey all the way to Toronto, when, on July 10, 1922, he received his first dose of insulin from Banting himself, changing the course of his life forever.

Mildred and Earl’s sacrifice for their son paid off—their hopes were confirmed.

Like many who live with diabetes, Teddy struggled with regulating it for his whole life, but thanks to Banting, Best, Collip, and Macleod, he was alive to go through that struggle. In fact, he was Dr. Banting’s last surviving patient from the discovery period.

In 2014, Anne Pritchard, Teddy Ryder’ niece, donated to Banting House National Historic Site an incredible collection of artifacts from Teddy’s life, including insulin vials, logbooks, photos, and letters. Before entering the exhibit, feel free to listen to a brief oral history interview with Anne, where she discusses her experiences with Teddy, Mildred, and Earl, as well as what the collection means to her.

This collection is so vast, that we at Banting House are telling the Ryder story through two exhibits: an online one and an on-site one. While the on-site exhibit will focus more on Teddy’s material artifacts (such as his insulin vials and logbooks) to tell this story, this online exhibit will tell his story through photos and letters. Take a look and see first-hand the reason why the discovery of insulin matters so much: it saved Teddy Ryder’s life, and continues to save lives around the world today.

Before heading over to the online show, watch this black & white clip from 1929. Included in the Ryder collection was a 16mm film which we recently converted to an online format. Please enjoy this new addition to our exhibit, “I’m a Fat Boy Now.”

Click this button to explore the Teddy Ryder story:


Anne Pritchard Interview

Meet Anne Pritchard

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Who was Teddy Ryder?

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Teddy and his Diabetes

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Mildred and Earl Ryder

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The Ryder Collection

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