Friday, August 21, 2015

Ephemera for Lunch #11:
Sarsaparilla and some dogs

Let's finish this week with some animals used in advertising. The small text on the bottom of this dog-filled Victorian trade card states: "Take Hood's Sarsaparilla. 100 doses one dollar."

The back of the card is filled from top to bottom with Hood's long-winded advertising pitch. Here's an excerpt:
"100 Doses One Dollar can only be truthfully applied to Hood's Sarsaparilla, and is an unanswerable argument as to strength and economy. Hood's Sarsaparilla is made from Sarsaparilla, Yellow Dock, Wild Cherry, Dandelion, Juniper, Pipsissewa, Stillingia, Mandrake, and other selected roots, barks, and herbs in a combination and by a process peculiar to itself. We challenge any preparation to show a home appreciation so throughly vouched for."
That's followed by a series of testimonials in which customers and druggists claim that the product, produced out of Lowell, Massachusetts, could cure:
  • Serofula
  • Salt Rheum
  • Catarrh
  • Dyspepsia
  • Any blood disease
  • Scrofulous sores
  • Poor appetite
  • Bowels all out of order
  • Indigestion

Not surprisingly, Hood's Sarsaparilla has an entry on The Quack Doctor website. And, not surprisingly, there was an ingredient, not listed above, the likely spurred the medicine's popularity. An excerpt from The Quack Doctor:
"Analysis by the BMA [British Medical Association], reported in Secret Remedies: What they cost and what they contain, showed that the mixture contained only '2.0 parts of vegetable extract per 100 fluid parts.' Instead, its popularity might have been down to it being nearly 20% alcohol."

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