Phil Sokolof

Phil Sokolof (December 15, 1921 – April 15, 2004)[1] was a multi-millionaire businessman and crusader against heart disease. In the 1980s and early 1990s he targeted the restaurant chain McDonald's and is credited with almost single-handedly forcing numerous changes. The Los Angeles Times eulogized Sokolof saying, "In our big, complex and bureaucratized society, here was indeed a case where one person made a difference, and where an idea had definite and beneficial consequences."

Phil Sokolof
Born(1921-12-15)December 15, 1921
DiedApril 15, 2004(2004-04-15) (aged 82)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
Known forHeart disease crusader
Spouse(s)Ruth Rosinsky

Sokolof became wealthy as a producer of construction supplies, like drywall.[2] Though he had never been overweight and had never smoked, he had a heart attack in 1966 at the age of 44. His research led him to believe that high fat foods were the culprit, and in the 1980s, he founded the National Heart Savers Association.[3] Sokolof's targeted fast-food outlets did an almost overnight switch to trans fats, which are scientifically arguably much worse.

Sokolof's efforts grabbed the greatest number of headlines regarding the McDonald's menu, most notably ending the practice of cooking their French fries in beef tallow.[4] He also waged campaigns against the use of so-called "tropical" oils, such as coconut and palm oils, which were used in the manufacture of many cookies and crackers. According to the Los Angeles Times, Sokolof's campaign forced several manufacturers, including Ralston Purina, Borden, Pillsbury, Quaker Oats, Sunshine Biscuits, Pepperidge Farm and Keebler, to end their use of tropical oils in their products.

After winning his war on beef tallow and tropical oils, Sokolof's public profile was reduced, but he continued his fight, primarily against fat in the diet. In 1995, Bryant Gumbel introduced him for a debate on the Today show as "America's No. 1 Cholesterol Fighter".[5] Sokolof took out ads decrying the popularity of 2% milk, arguing that it is not low-fat, and encouraging parents to only buy skim milk. In 1997, he enjoined Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods to not endorse McDonald's.[6] In 2002, Sokolof briefly returned to his full-page ad purchasing practice to discourage fellow Omaha native Warren Buffett from purchasing Burger King.[7][8]

Sokolof died on April 15, 2004 at the age of 82.[4]


  1. ^[dead link]
  2. ^ Saxon, Wolfgang (April 17, 2004). "Phil Sokolof, 82, a Crusader Against Cholesterol, Is Dead". The New York Times.
  3. ^ ". . . And Phil Sokolof". Los Angeles Times. January 22, 1989.
  4. ^ a b McLellan, Dennis (April 16, 2004). "Phil Sokolof, 82; Used His Personal Fortune in Fight Against High-Fat Foods". Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ Koenenn, Connie (May 4, 1995). "Attack of the Anti-Fat Man : Just Who Is Phil Sokolof and Why Is He Picking On Milk (and the Foods We Love to Eat)?". Los Angeles Times.
  6. ^ "Articles about Phil Sokolof". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ Bedlan, Barry (November 27, 2002). "Ad Urges Buffett Not to Buy Burger King Chain". Los Angeles Times. Associated Press.
  8. ^ Charles, Dan (November 7, 2013). "FDA Moves To Phase Out Remaining Trans Fats In Food Supply". NPR.