Vintage Scan #24: American Druggist (March 1942)

So, I picked up a couple copies of American Druggist at an antique store and found them interesting enough to share on Retrospace.  I'll post the 1950's issue in a subsequent post; this time around we'll look at the March 1942 issue.  First off, it's got this intriguing sign on the cover: "Remedy for Rumors (Spread by Hitler Stooges) For Mr. and Mrs. America, look at who's talking and Say Nothing!"  This sign actually came with the magazine, as a sort of centerfold. What the - ?

The interior of the magazine actually doesn't provide much enlightenment.  I can only assume it's a word of caution to Americans to beware of German propagandists or spies among us.  Or perhaps it's just a healthy recommendation to not listen to the gossip mill or contribute to it; but rather stay informed through reliable sources.  Any WWII experts out there that can shed light on this?

 So many of the advertisements were geared toward the pharmacist, not the consumers in an effort to get their products on the shelves.  It made me kind of sad, actually.  In 2013, we have Rite Aid, CVS, and Walgreens pharmacies, and others associated with big supermarkets or Wal-Mart.  It's laughable to think the "druggist" would have a say-so as to what gets stocked on the shelves.

Okay, here's yet another item I don't quite get.  Why is she yelling "NO SOAP"?  Barbasol doesn't require a brush, lather or rub-in.... but why is this chick freaking out?  Is it because he has told her that he's using Barbasol which doesn't require soap, and she is interpreting this as uncleanliness?

I am always amazed at the breadth of knowledge contained within the collective readership of Retrospace.  I trust someone out there will provide the answer.

"Your own customers have itching burning scalps. Your own customers are ready and willing to buy.... somewhere"

Just as in the last ad, this one is pushing the druggist to take the product off the shelf and place it prominently on the counter.    This is particularly interesting in that it assumes the buyer will be a woman (read the text at the bottom right).

Bromides have a sedative effect, and were the go-to drug for hangovers.  They were declared illegal in 1975.

When was the last time you used the word "sundries" in a sentence?  Interesting to note the direct impact the war effort had on civilians.  Today, we are blind to the sacrifice because all wartime expenditures just get added to the national debt.

A pen never sounded so good.  "Trans-Vue" ink, Morocco finish, and a 14 carat gold point for a buck-fifty? Hells Bells, I want a Wearever De Luxe asap!  Be sure to order it in the men's size.

Wait a minute.  Cancel that Wearever De Luxe.  The Waterman's pen has INKQUADUCT. Plus, the male pens have a "masculine feel" (whereas the women's pens have "trim feminine styling").  And chicks dig a pen that's advertised in The Post.

I'd never heard of a Zino-pad, but was surprised to learn their still around.  I don't know what the hell "Zino" means, and no amount of Google searching found me an answer.  The active ingredient is salicylic acid, which sounds nothing like "zino".

Argyrol is a silver protein used to combat infections; it was particularly popular in its effectiveness against gonorrhea.

Every town had its family owned drugstore and diner, each with their own unique qualities.  Today, an El Paso Applebee's is the same as a Baltimore Applebee's.  A Portland Walgreens is the same as an Akron Walgreens.  We've voluntarily traded in character for homogeneity.

Ivory and Dial are pussies.  And don't get me started on Irish Spring.

A woman's blood contains five percent more water?  I'd like to call BS on that one.

I find this fascinating.  With the fellas in foxholes, the drugstore became geared almost exclusively toward women.  Set up a feminine hygiene department and watch the money roll in.

Is your face "lashed by stinging gales" or "burned raw by the sizzling sun"? Ingram's shaving cream is the brand for you.

Can you imagine this ad today? "I watch 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo'" or "I watch 'Keeping Up With the Kardashians'".

Favorite lines: "children like Castoria because it tastes grand" (yeah, right) and "He built the best gol-danged window display you ever saw."



  1. "No soap" was 40's slang meaning something like "no way" "no luck" or "this isn't going to work". The lady has just rejected the poor guy's advances and is leaving. Of course the ad means that this wouldn't have happened if only the guy had shaved with Barbasol - an advanced formula that contains no soap and requires no brush). This is an early version of the most important law of advertising - sex sells.

  2. I recall drug stores with wooden phone booths and sliding doors! I'm 57 so I qualify as a relic.

  3. In WWII, every company tried to show it was helping in the war effort. Reminding people not to talk about their serviceman's location, troop movements, ship embarking, and the like was an easy way to do that. Now, companies have to show they are supportive of whatever the current milieu is, such as "diversity."

  4. Ah, the benefit of being a voracious reader as a kid, instead of sitting in front of endless 80s video games...

    This was the era of "loose lips sink ships" and such slogans...It was assumed, if you were a decent American, you'd keep your yap shut around strangers or suspicious folks, especially if you were in the service, worked in munitions, etc...

    "No soap" can also be exclaimed as "no dice."

    Al Bigley

  5. I think "no soap" was a double play on words, because a lot of fellas shaved with soap in a cup lathered up with a a brush. This shaving cream stuff was new. I even did that for a while since it's cheaper. Eventually I gave in and bought an electric razor for my sensitive skin.

    You'll be happy to know I use a locally owned pharmacy. With insurance it doesn't matter where you go. It's not the oldest one in town but it's the closest to my house. There's one downtown that is really old and run by a really old fellow. It's pretty interesting to walk in there.

  6. So were there no articles or was it just ads and selling suggestions?
    If you have the whole magazine in a zip file I'd love to have it.
    I love all these old periodicals.

    I remember hearing Bromo-Seltzer advertising in an old radio show I had. DO not remember the show, but I do remember the ad.

  7. So there's these two elephants in a bathtub.

    One of them turns to the other and says "Pass the soap"

    And the other one says "No, the radio".

  8. And the largest selling product in the "feminine hygiene department" was...Lysol--for the first half of the 20th century. Lysol was originally marketed for douching, as part of "feminine hygiene"...which at the time was a synonym for "preventing pregnancy". Numerous women endured side effects like injury, death--or pregnancy. But its maker, the Lehm & Fink Company, was big on corporate rundaround and legalese. In the 1950's it was reformulated and also marketed as a germicide, prelude to the Lysol products of today (by a different company). But the douching instructions remained on the bottle until 1967.

  9. No one would realize, of course, in the first full year of U.S. participation in WWII that about a decade after the war ended that these same drug stores, such as Katz in Kansas City, MO would become a battle ground themselves, of sorts, in the civil rights movement.