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Weed, Booze, Cocaine and Other Old School "Medicine" Ads
June 12, 2009 10:28 AM   Subscribe

Dr. Batty's Asthma Cigarettes (not recommended for children under 6) -- and other ads from the era when heroin was an over the counter cough medicine.
posted by empath (39 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Quaalude one is awesome.
posted by delmoi at 10:33 AM on June 12, 2009


Agreed. That dude looks like he's going to kill his family.
posted by chunking express at 10:40 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


The pharmaceutical industry seemed very concerned with housewives back then... "Many of your patients -- particularly housewives -- are crushed under a load of dull, routine duties that leave them in a state of mental and emotional fatigue...Dexedrine will give them a feeling of energy and well-being, renewing their interest in life and living."
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 10:40 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's sort of like a real-life version of the Billboard Song.

Awesome post.
posted by ORthey at 10:40 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Things like this remind me of the Woody Allen movie "Sleeper", where apparently things like hot fudge sundaes and cigarettes are evidently "known" to be healthy.
posted by King Bee at 10:40 AM on June 12, 2009


Since I'm currently living in an era where we give kids speed to keep them attentive in school, I'm not sure precisely how much humor I'm supposed to find in this.

Having said that, it is pretty funny.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 10:42 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


This article on side-effects worse then the problems they treat is pretty funny too, like restless leg syndrome cures that cause hallucinations and arthritis medication that can cause death
posted by delmoi at 10:42 AM on June 12, 2009


The era when heroin was an over the counter cough medicine.

Imagine. And people waste their time travels killing Hitler.
posted by rokusan at 10:43 AM on June 12, 2009 [8 favorites]


I think, btw, that some of those ads are faked.

For example.

The type on that sign is all wrong, and this guy is selling 'hand-vintaged' versions of it.
posted by empath at 10:44 AM on June 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


And here I just thought "Quaalude" was some made-up word. Crazy. 

They need to add an ad for Sudfed to this... *sigh* pseudoephedrine, how I miss thee.
posted by GuyZero at 10:44 AM on June 12, 2009


People on 'ludes should not drive ... buggies.
posted by adipocere at 10:52 AM on June 12, 2009


Yeah, the Asthma Cigarettes one is definitely fake. If any of the others are fake, they're at least well-done fakes.
posted by zsazsa at 10:58 AM on June 12, 2009


Now packed with 33% more asbestos fibres!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:00 AM on June 12, 2009


When John Marks was prescribing the heroin reefers, the pharmacist that used to make them up used to make them up on Potters Herbal Cigarettes -- a product supposedly made for asthmatics that contained shredded Datura plants.

They had to do this, because although it's perfectly legal to supply patients with heroin on the NHS, you'd best not be giving them any Benson and Hedges, or you'll be in deep shit.

Coincidentally, I bumped into Jeremy Clitherow at a conference just last week. He wasn't pimping no heroin reefers though, sadly.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:08 AM on June 12, 2009


you know there's a song that goes with this post....(SLYT, homebrew music video with misspellings...song is brilliant, tho...FWIW, it's "up the DUCT" not 'up the duff')
posted by sexyrobot at 11:16 AM on June 12, 2009


So what was coca-cola like when it was made with real Coca plant extract? Was it like a liquefied form of cocaine, or was it pretty much what it's like now? Did the Kola nut extract have any effect on the drinker, or did they just change the recipe to avoid legal issues?
posted by ShadowCrash at 11:21 AM on June 12, 2009


There is a snopes article about it, and basically there was hardly any cocaine in the drink.
posted by chunking express at 11:31 AM on June 12, 2009


i've never understood why pharmaceutical companies are even allowed to advertise. this just helps make my case.
posted by msconduct at 11:35 AM on June 12, 2009


The pharmaceutical industry seemed very concerned with housewives back then...

More likely, it was the husbands going, "Hey Doc, my wife is driving me nuts. She sits at home, doing nothing but eating bon-bons with the kids all day, while I work, and when I come home, the bitch alternates between crying and screaming."

"I totally understand. Here, give her these pills. That'll shut her up."

"Awesome! Got anything for these ungrateful, screaming kids that constantly pester me with questions?"

"As a matter of fact..."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:40 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I long for the days when all we had to worry about was catarrh.
posted by tommasz at 11:40 AM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


I used cocaine for a toothache once. Works about the same as benzocaine (Anbesol, Orajel, etc.) but, well, I didn't have any of those and the people I was hanging out with were blowing lines.
posted by Sockpuppet For Naughty Things at 11:43 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have a print somewhere of the Smith Glyco-Heroin one. It's not fake. I'll see if I can dig it up.
posted by iamkimiam at 11:49 AM on June 12, 2009


MMMmmmm... nembutol suppositories. PAR-TAY!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:57 AM on June 12, 2009


Thanks to this post, I'm going to be spending all afternoon saying "Farbenfabriken of Elberfeld."

Farbenfabriken of Elberfeld! Farbenfabriken of Elberfeld! Whee!
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:10 PM on June 12, 2009


This stuff was for pansies. My grandma's friend who used to quiet fussy babies by turning on the gas just a little, then hold the kid's head in the oven just a little till it "calmed down"--now she could've told these patent-snake oil dealers a thing or two about remedies.
posted by Neofelis at 12:31 PM on June 12, 2009


I'm surprised that my favorite Thorazine ad (the one with the cranky old guy shaking his cane in protest) isn't included here. How else are we supposed to subdue the elderly when Matlock's no longer in syndication?
posted by Spatch at 12:33 PM on June 12, 2009


It's all about the Quaalude ad. Great post.
posted by pianoboy at 12:42 PM on June 12, 2009


Before that sissy stuff got into the stores, real men used this:

Laudanum (pronounced /ˈlɔːd(ə)nəm/) (laudanum liquidum simplex), also known as opium tincture or thebaic tincture is an alcoholic herbal preparation of opium. It is made by combining ethanol with opium latex or powder. Laudanum contains almost all of the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine. A highly potent narcotic by virtue of its morphine content, laudanum was historically prescribed to treat a variety of ailments, but its principal use was as an analgesic. Contrary to popular belief, laudanum is still available by prescription in several countries, including the United States, although its manufacture, distribution, and use are strictly regulated. Today the drug's medicinal uses are limited to controlling fulminant diarrhea that does not respond to other modalities, easing withdrawal symptoms in infants who were born to mothers addicted to heroin or other opioids, and alleviating pain. Most commercially-produced opium tincture is deodorized or denarcotized to remove the narcotine alkaloid, since narcotine can induce nausea and vomiting, and has no therapeutic value in treating pain, diarrhea or withdrawal. Opium tincture should not be confused with camphorated tincture of opium (also known as paregoric), which is also prescribed for diarrhea, but is only 1/25th the strength. While the terms "laudanum" and "tincture of opium" are generally interchangeable, in contemporary medical practice, the latter is used almost exclusively.
posted by Postroad at 12:48 PM on June 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Canker sours?
posted by Never teh Bride at 1:17 PM on June 12, 2009


You will have call for them. Order a supply from your jobber.
posted by JHarris at 1:28 PM on June 12, 2009


I love this from the Dexedrine ad, which I think is typical of a certain pre-women's lib mindset:
"Many of your patients -- particularly housewives -- are crushed under a load of dull, routine duties that leave them in a state of mental and emotional fatigue...Dexedrine will give them a feeling of energy and well-being, renewing their interest in life and living."

Wait! Why not change the dull, routine duties?

To be clear, it's not that I think this inclination to medicate away dissatisfaction with life went away after the 60's. It's just that the pharmaceutical industry discovered they could expand their target audience to include everyone: housewives, working women, men, even children. J

"Prozac will give your whole family a feeling of energy and well-being. Recommended even for children under 6."
posted by signalandnoise at 2:04 PM on June 12, 2009


> you know there's a song that goes with this post

And though she's not really ill, there's a little yellow pill...
posted by languagehat at 2:17 PM on June 12, 2009


you know there's a song that goes with this post

who put the benzedrine in mrs murphy's ovaltine?
posted by pyramid termite at 2:25 PM on June 12, 2009


Here are some vintage advertisements touting items that we might balk at taking today.

What's this "we?"
posted by lekvar at 2:53 PM on June 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


There's nothing magical about it, it's a big canon. Just the thing for extracting pain
posted by mattoxic at 6:06 PM on June 12, 2009


Cures beards?
posted by rigby51 at 11:32 AM on June 13, 2009


Now I really want a time machine.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:31 PM on June 13, 2009


You know what the really funny part about the OTC heroin is? Heroin was developed to be a less addictive alternative to other opiates. When heroin addicts started showing up shortly after it was made available, they realized it hadn't worked out too well. Opiates were available over-the-counter for a long time after that, too. My mom remembers my grandma giving her and my aunts paregoric to get them to go to sleep. I don't even know what paregoric was supposed to be for (it was a tincture of opium), but parents used to give it to their kids all the time in the 50s. I only know what it is from William S. Burroughs mentioning using it when he was fiending.

Quaaludes are a drug I've always wanted to try, but they were long gone by the time I was old enough to know what getting high was. They probably wouldn't live up to the hype anyway, from what I understand they were basically just a much more powerful version of somas.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:42 PM on June 13, 2009


I've always been puzzled by a scene in Hitchcock's remake of "The man Who Knew Too Much" when after their child has been kidnapped The Jimmy Stewart character gives his wife, played by Doris Day, a couple of pills before he gives her the bad news. Given how commonplace these sedatives and uppers were at the time the movie was made (1956) this would have been a very common thing.
posted by Gungho at 4:11 AM on June 14, 2009


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