As I sat on the bus sucking on a Butter-menthol and hoping that the scratchy feeling in my throat wasn’t the onset of a cold (incidentally, it was) I got to thinking about the history of cough lollies which included (of course) historical advertisements.
Cough lollies (also known as throat lozenges – though I’ve never called them by this name) have been around since the time of the Ancient Egyptians but it was during the 19th Century that they became increasingly popular; largely due to the discovery that the addition of heroin and morphine to the lolly would supress the cough via the brain. Heroin and morphine weren’t the only extreme ingredients known to be in cough lollies and as you’ll see below, one company claimed that an American manufacturer listed formaldehyde in their ingredients. Although whether this is actually true remains to be seen.
These ingredients were eventually removed from cough lollies (thank goodness!) when concerns were raised about addiction and, today, most of them simply contain some kind of menthol. Though they do ease the throat and provide temporary relief from coughing, they do not serve as complete medication to cure illness. To illustrate my point, in Perth, they’re found in the lolly section; usually next to the chewing gum.
Though I am more familiar with brands such as Butter-menthol, Anticol, Throaties and Vicks, I am also curious about the other brands of cough lolly that existed and, for some reason or another, did not stand the test of time.
An early advertisement from 1892 for Keatings Cough Lozenges states that they cured coughs, asthma and bronchitis and stresses that no opium nor “any violent drug” is contained in the lozenge.
A “well-known shop” in Perth named ‘Mrs Harrod’s’ took advantage of the gold mining boom in the 1890’s and advertised a eucalyptus lozenge which was strongly recommended for miners to use in order to keep away sicknesses that were “so prevalent on the goldfields“.
In 1916 Throatoids decided to target their advertising towards people who regularly used their voice such as singers, soldiers and public speakers. The lozenges were available from Pleasance’s Pharmacy in Prahan, Victoria.
Peps’ 1917 advertising described how their lozenges would loosen phlegm then clear the lungs as well as the bronchial tubes. In case you were wondering whether they contained any “drowsy drugs” they reassured you that they were as “pure as the pines they come from” and were hailed as the “greatest discovery of the age“.
Plaistowe’s Particular Peppermints (P.P.P. Mints) were advertised in The West Australian as being extra strong and made with peppermint oil and cane sugar. Though sounding more like an actual lolly and less like a cough lolly, they were however described as lozenges which would disinfect the mouth, throat, nose and lungs and protect you from coughs and colds.
Pixettes, sold by F. Warland Browne & Co in Launceston, Tasmania, were advertised in 1925 as being a “delightfully soothing” lozenge that “won’t let you cough.” And in case you still weren’t convinced, they further stated that they would “keep out the damp.”
Hudson’s Eumenthol Jujubes were advertised in The Daily News in 1929 and included a handy picture of the lungs with the various parts labelled. Used for coughs, colds, sore throats as well as the prevention of consumption, they (somewhat disturbingly if it’s true) reassured consumers that no formaldehyde was contained in their lozenges.
Throaties (one of the brands still around today) were invented by Sweetacres in 1930 after several years’ testing in their laboratories. Their goal was to create a medicated lozenge which would provide relief for husky throats and would meet medical standards set by both advisors and chemical experts. They went on further to state that Throaties were “recommended not as a cure, but simply as a preventive of throat troubles and for the relief they afford.” Perhaps adding extra weight to my earlier statement regarding cough lollies being found in the lolly section, the inventors, Sweetacres, were the very same company who invented Minties. You might be interested to know that even after all these years, the Throaties logo still looks much the same.
There didn’t seem to be a lot of advertisements for throat lozenges throughout the 1940s but by the 1950s, Vicks had come onto the scene; advertising their product as a “6-in-1 relief for coughs and husky throats.” Judging by the amount of times they showed up in the search results, it would appear they launched a fairly aggressive advertising campaign.
Nyal advertised their medicated throat lozenges in 1958 stating that they checked infection, suppressed coughing and stopped soreness. While Nyal is a pharmaceutical brand that’s still around today, they have however appeared to have moved away from selling lozenges.
Since eliminating those dangerous ingredients, advertising for cough lollies (apart from claiming they were a complete cure) is still quite similar to today’s advertising. They are still described as medicated; as a relief for sore throats and coughs and often contain menthol, peppermint or eucalyptus oil. One difference however is that today, cough lollies also tend to advertise the fact that they temporarily relieve nasal congestion. Why this wasn’t listed in past advertisements (despite the similarity of menthol ingredients) is beyond me.
What about you? Is there a particular brand of cough lolly that you remember that I haven’t mentioned?
- Historical information obtained from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Throat_lozenge).
- 1892 ‘Advertising.’, Darling Downs Gazette (Qld. : 1881 – 1922), 11 June, p. 4, viewed 22 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article170729580
- 1894 ‘Advertising.’, The Inquirer and Commercial News (Perth, WA : 1855 – 1901), 22 June, p. 3 Supplement: THE INQUIRER AND COMMERCIAL NEWS., viewed 22 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66247258
- 1916 ‘Advertising.’, Spectator and Methodist Chronicle (Melbourne, Vic. : 1914 – 1918), 18 August, p. 1063, viewed 22 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154271201
- 1917 ‘Advertising.’, Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 – 1950), 6 April, p. 1, viewed 22 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article92242021
- 1923 ‘Display Advertising.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), 2 August, p. 10, viewed 22 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article22628629
- 1925 ‘Advertising.’, Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 – 1928), 24 July, p. 9, viewed 22 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article153662224
- 1929 ‘Advertising.’, The Daily News (Perth, WA : 1882 – 1950), 10 August, p. 10 Edition: FINAL SPORTING EDITION, viewed 22 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article82980937
- 1930 ‘Advertising.’, Warwick Daily News (Qld. : 1919 -1954), 1 November, p. 6, viewed 22 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article177654076
- 1954 ‘Advertising.’, Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954), 22 April, p. 6, viewed 22 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49424290
- 1958 ‘Advertising.’, The Australian Women’s Weekly (1933 – 1982), 13 August, p. 80, viewed 22 May, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article46470600