The Acme Worm Bouncer

ADvent Calendar Day 19 This wonderful product name conjures up an image of Wile E Coyote speeding along a dirt road on a go-kart-mounted trebuchet, firing little worms at Road Runner until the cart hits a stone and tumbles into a lake, attracting thousands of ravenous fish to the bait. …

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The sparkle of perfect health

ADvent Calendar Day 12 The Favorite Prescription was just one part of a range marketed by Dr Ray Vaughn Pierce in newspapers, almanacs, pamphlets and on the side of barns across the late 19th-century US. After his death in 1914, his profitable business continued in the hands of his son, …

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The Dolly Dimpler

ADvent Calendar Day 6 Designed to create adorable dimples where there were none before, devices like this appeared in the 1920s. Evangeline Isabella Gilbert of Rochester, NY, filed a patent in 1921 (not granted until 1926) for a dimple-producer that involved two pointed knobs fitted to a spring bow that …

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Don’t be gulled by misleading advertisements

This 20-page booklet from about 1927 appears at first glance to be an official publication intended to raise public awareness of the ‘preposterous claims concerning so-called “patent” medicines, which are a disgrace to any civilised nation and a bar to human progress.’ The cover’s references to the Home Office and …

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A nameless tramp’s discovery

Deep in the piney woods of Louisiana there grow certain herbs. Clean, fresh, green little herbs they are, redolent with the smell of the pines and of the wholesome earth that has given them birth. Years ago, a nameless tramp discovered that these little herbs contained a marvelous power to …

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Bomb the first sneeze with Kilacold

  If you think a chlorine bomb sounds more like something from the battlefield than the medicine cabinet, then you’d be right about the origins of this 1920s remedy. The product, and a brief trend among physicians for treating colds with chlorine, arose from experiments made by the US Chemical …

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