Stanley claimed that he in 1879, after 11 years as a cowboy, studied for more than two years with a Hopi medicine man at Walpi, Arizona. This supposedly included learning the secrets of snake oil. With the help of a Boston druggist he began marketing his product at Western medicine shows. In 1893 he and his rattlesnakes became a hit attraction at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. His act included the killing of rattlesnakes and squeezing their bodies, what came out he labeled snake oil. Later he went on to establish production facilities in Beverly, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island.
In 1916, subsequent to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act in 1906, Stanley's concoction was examined and found to be of no value (it was mostly mineral oil). He was fined $20.00. The term snake oil was well established as a worthless concoction sold as medicine.
- Hurley, Dan (2006). "The Rattlesnake King. Natural Causes: Death, Lies and Politics in America's Vitamin and Herbal Supplement Industry". Archived from the original on July 9, 2011.
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