Medicinal Magic

I’ve been fighting a sore throat, usually the first sign that I’m coming down with a cold. Which got me wondering about Rose and what she would do in my circumstances.

Enter Vicks.

My grandfather—the original Harold—thought Vicks VaporRub could cure anything.

And why not? When it was first marketed just after the turn of the century, when Grandpa Harold was a young boy, it was sold as “Vicks Magic Croup Salve.”

Now, who can argue with magic???

Grandpa even used the stuff on his stock. And there’s a certain amount of evidence to indicate he wasn’t the only one. Again, when it was first marketed, ingredients included castor oil, liniment, and vermifuge (which kills or otherwise deters parasites).

But, in case Rose is not equally enamored with the Vicks magic, this page from the Fall-1928 Sears Catalog shows all the other choices available.


One thing I noticed when looking at old ads on this site was the association between colds and influenza. Of course, after so many people died during the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, who can blame folks for being cautious. Besides, they hadn’t really made the association of specific viruses being at the root of influenzas.

Of course, none of this is helping sooth my sore throat. Perhaps I’ll just have a little hot tea with honey. Hmmm… maybe a splash of whiskey.

See you on Thursday.

5 thoughts on “Medicinal Magic

  1. Wow they were still selling Pinkham’s Vegetable Compound in 1928? That stuff was a staple of the Victorian age, and was like 99% booze, more or less. It was meant for “female ills” of any kind, but women would mostly use it to get drunk at home. Of course, people probably used it the same way during Prohibition, too…


      • True! It’s also a highlight of a hilarious book I recently read by Therese Oneill, “Unmentionable: A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners.” If you have any interest in Victorian England from a woman’s perspective—and even if you don’t—it’s a very funny, quick and educational read. I’d highly recommend it. Plus, there’s a song about the alcoholic wonders of Pinkham’s!


  2. Ooh, they actually had cocoa butter, that’s nice. In between the “native herb”, a “pink, sugar-coated tablet”, and what not. Wonder what “tiz” is?
    Who knows what was in half this stuff…


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