Selected by Beverly Stock

—From Liver Pills to stuff that kills, and makes it smooth to die,
The last is not their mission, though, and yet within their power,
But if you’re sick–go to them quick, or you may rue the hour,
You kept on monkeying with fate, and deemed yourself as “Tough”
And scorn the saving dose to take, thought NATURE was enough.
And so she is sometimes you know, but fails when not assisted,
And that’s the reason why, you know, physicians are enlisted.—”

Source: “Sound the Huggag! Bring Out The Whangdoodle”

In 1885, such advertising poems were created for a variety of Drugstores in Texas, Louisiana and some Indian Territories, by Commercial Rhymist, W. N. Bryant. Each poem (45 lines or more), became full-page advertising poems on behalf of local druggists, with a folkloric point of view. These were less than subtle, multi-line verses about medicine, life, the wills of nature, hair and laxative products, fastidious tastes, baking powder, God, and CIGARS. Each and every poem ends with lines saluting stogies, such as these:

Combs, hair brushes and all toilet fittings complete,
To make ladies lovey and healthy and sweet,—
Which is man’s chief delight, for without her, oh my!
He’d be left to disgrace and to lay down and die.—
And he has a fine line of cigars, too—”you bet”—
Not the rusty old stogies you generally get.

Source: “Evolution and Revolution”

 

 

 

 

Beverly Stock is a poet who writes and enjoys poetry that salutes everyday life in rhyme. Find her at BeverlyStockPoetry on Facebook, www.BeverlyStockPoetry.com and www.ThePrayerfulPoet.com .

 


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13 Responses

  1. Beverly Stock

    It’s doubtful 20th century readers would be patient enough to read through these long yet amusing editorial rhymes, but such headlines as “SOUND THE HUGAG!,” “EVOLUTION AND REVOLUTION,” AND “WHY WILL YOU DIE?” beg a quick review by readers of rhyming folklore history. Find more at https://publicdomainreview.org/.
    Rhyming Drugstore Advertisements- 1855, by W. N. Bryant, Commercial Rhymist for Smith & Brother, Unionville, LA, c. 1885.

    Reply
  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    In the second line of the second poem, shouldn’t it be “To make ladies lovely…”?

    Reply
    • Beverly S Stock

      Joe-I used the ad text and punctuation verbatim. I agree some might not be as we would write it today. It is, however, accurate to my source.

      Reply
  3. Sally Cook

    This approach to advertising was in use at least 2 centuries and more before Mr. Bryant began his rhyming solicitations; the Puritans were assailed by it in church. One of their hymn books having carried the line “Hrark! The Herald Angels sing — Beecham’s pills are just the thing.”

    Reply
  4. Daniel Kemper

    Coca-cola began as a syrup for settling upset stomachs. Part of a location and time thing (long ago, very small town), I remember the little box the bottle was in on the country store shelf. I had a drink cup years later that had all the slogans they’ve used over the century+ they’ve been around. Fun ones went like “brightens the intellect and refreshes the weary” and other exaggerated mentions in the early years before they settled down to stuff like “have a coke and a smile”. Those early slogans match up with the times that they had cocaine in it, rather than today’s caffeine– hence the name. It’s kind of funny to see that oblique medicinal path.

    Reply
  5. Jeff Eardley

    Beverly, these are great fun and, boy oh boy, are we in need of fun tonight in England. The last time I heard “Old Stogies” was in that great Roger Miller song, “King of the Road.” We call them “Fag Ends” over here, but I guess that may have a different meaning Stateside.
    The Beechams pills reference reminded me of a line in a song by the great US icon, Tom Waits, “The
    large print giveth, but the small print taketh away”
    Great stuff and thanks for this fascinating insight.

    Reply
  6. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Beverly, I love these. They have brought me a huge smile and have made me want to share a “remedy” from “The Olio Cookery Book” printed in the U.K. in 1954. My late grandmother gave it to me, and this “remedy” never fails to make me ache with laughter:

    BOILS – Remedy
    Place 1 teaspoon of gunpowder in a good thick fig. Eat one three times a day before meals till the boils disappear.
    N.B. – Safe and sure.

    I pity any poor soul lighting up a cigarette near the boil sufferer after a large, rich meal. LOL

    Thank you very much for these!

    Reply

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