I have a somewhat motley collection of old glass bottles lined up along the back windows of my house. I’m obsessed with them. Some I bought in thrift or self-proclaimed antique stores, a few came from garage sales, and one was found in the garage of my current home. Some of the bottles are just pretty, but a few have some interesting history: Mrs. Stewart’s Bluing, Watkins tonics and extracts of all types, and a real prize…Chamberlain’s Colic-Cholera-Diarrhea Remedy (seriously….CHOLERA?)
My absolute favorite though is my Lydia Pinkham’s bottle. This ‘vegetable compound’ was for female trouble of all sorts, including pain, oversensitivity in young girls, listlessness, nervous breakdown and…shudder…Social Tragedy.
One bottle that I’ve always wanted and don’t yet have is for a product that my Grandmama told me about many years ago: Hadacol. She laughed when she told me about this magical snake oil that used to be popular in the South. The packaging stated that the tonic was ‘A dietary supplement for increasing appetite and promoting proper growth, especially for growing children. Promotes normal regularity, improves appetite, give you a new zest for life.” Grandmama said that it was mostly alcohol and, to sell it down South, “they hadda call it somethin’!”
It turns out the stuff was 12% alcohol (as a preservative), and they threw in some other ingredients that supposedly made it hit the bloodstream more quickly than normal alcohol, so I’m not sure if those growing children had good appetites or not, but I’ll bet they slept like logs!