New Booze: December 2022 Edition
Wall Street Journal Review of Doctors and Distillers

The Alcoholic Strength of Patent Medicines

I'm doing some historical research and came across this article from 1905 - just before the Pure Food & Drug Act was enacted. (See Doctors and Distillers for more about that!) This is from the "Truth" newspaper from Salt Lake City. 

It lists the alcohol percentages of many bitters and a few items that claimed to be nonalcoholic. 

I think it gives us both a good look at the types of products (specifically stomach bitters) that were on the market in that era, and clearly shows how many of them were lying about their contents - which was legal at the time!

They're organized from lest to most alcohol, a few favorites pulled out:

  • Kaufman's Sulphur Bitters "contains no alcohol" (as a matter of fact it contains 20.50 percent alcohol and no sulphur.)
  • Lydia Pinkham's Vegetable Compound 30.61 percent [this product was notorious throughout Prohibition as an alcoholic 'medicine' for women]
  • Hoofland's German Bitters, "free from alcoholic stimulants" 25.60 percent alcohol
  • Colden's Liquid Beef Tonic "for alcohol habit" 26.50 percent alcohol 
  • Whiskol "a non-intoxicating stimulant" 28.59 percent alcohol

Zoom in for more - it goes from first column on the left to the top of the second column. 

Sn85058310 1905-08-12 1 7 image 624x817 from 0x92 to 3383x4519


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)