Judging by the number of medications
that have originated in North Carolina for indigestion and headaches,
our Tar Heel ancestors must have suffered mightily from "sour
stomachs" and chronic head pain. Products such as Bromo Seltzer,
Vick's VapoRub, and numerous heachache powders, including Goody's,
Stanback, and B.C., have their origins in this state. Even Pepsi-Cola
originally sold in New Bern, N.C., as "Brad's Drink" was
marketed in the 1890s as a cure for dyspepsia (upset stomachs).
A popular remedy for the common cold and congestion,
"Vick's VapoRub" was invented by Lunsford Richardson (1854-1919),
a drug-store owner in Selma, N.C. This ointment is composed principally
of camphor and menthol, an ingredient derived from mint and other
plants. In 1898, Richardson named his "home-brewed" product
after his brother-in-law Vick.
"FAT AS A BUTTERBALL"
Pepsi: 100 Years by Bob Stoddard (Los Angeles:
General Publishing Group, 1997).
Invented by New Bern druggist Caleb Bradham in the
1890s, Pepsi-Cola continues to be marketed today with the slogan "Born
in the Carolinas." This book examines in detail the history of
this refreshment, which was originally sold as a remedy for upset
stomachs under the name "Brad's Drink." In 1897, the beverage
was renamed Pepsi-Cola to underscore one of its ingredients, pepsin,
an enzyme that aids digestion. The Pepsi-Cola Company also touted
the benefits of having babies drink their product. The circa-1905
letter from the bottling works in New Bern encourages mothers to have
their babies drink Pepsi. It cites the example of little Emma Woodley,
an eight-month-old girl who it claims had grown healthy and "fat
as a butterball" enjoying Pepsi everyday.
Select image to enlarge
An advertisement for "Stanback's Headache Powders"
dominates the background of this photograph of a parade in downtown
Spencer, N.C., during the 1920s.
Image: N.C. Division of Archives & History
Bottle, molded blue glass inscribed with raised
lettering on its side "BROMO SELTZER / EMERSON / DRUG CO.
/ BALTIMORE M.D." and the numerals "33" on its
bottom, ca 1895; hiehgt 4" (10 cm), diamerter 1.5"
Since it was first formulated in 1888, Bromo-Seltzer
is still widely marketed as a liquid remedy for both headaches and
indigestion. The blue Bromo-Seltzer bottle is the type of container
in which the product was sold between 1890 and 1930. The medication's
inventor, Isaac Edward Emerson, was a native of Chapel Hill and
an 1879 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In 1881, he moved to Maryland, where he became a multi-millionaire
selling Bromo-Seltzer and other remedies developed by his Emerson
Drug Corporation. Later he shared some of his wealth with his alma
mater. In 1914, Emerson donated $26,000 to the University to fund
the construction of a needed athletic field for baseball and football.
Named in his honor, Emerson Field continues to serve the campus
as an all-purpose site for intramural sports and other student athletic
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