File this one under “history of dentistry.” It seems hard to believe now, but cocaine was once touted as a remedy for tooth pain.
The photo shows a 19th-century advertisement for a toothache remedy that would certainly not pass muster with modern dentists. The ad itself, which promises an “instantaneous cure” for tooth pain, might also raise eyebrows with advertising watchdogs.
The ad notes that the drops cost 15 cents and are for sale by “all druggists,” as pharmacists were called then. The ad also notes that the drops were made by the LLoyd Manufacturing Co. of Albany, N.Y. From the ad, it’s not clear if the 1885 date refers to year in which the company was founded, or to the year in which the company registered its pain-killing product.
The ad is a good example of “lifestyle advertising.” Rather than depict a person experiencing a dental emergency, the ad shows two children playing in front of a white picket fence. In the background, you can see a frame house and a tree bough laden with flowers.
Fun fact: The German pharmaceutical Bayer originally invented heroin as a cough suppressant, and promoted its use in children as recently as 1912.
Source: Leon Watson. “Cocaine for toothache and fashion for ‘chubbies’: Outrageous adverts from the past that would never be allowed today.” February 20, 2012. The Daily Mail.