Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People

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Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People was a late 19th to early 20th century patent medicine containing iron oxide and magnesium sulfate.[1] It was produced by Dr. Williams Medicine Company, the trading arm of G. T. Fulford & Company. It was claimed to cure chorea, referenced frequently in newspaper headlines as "St. Vitus' Dance," as well as "locomotor ataxia, partial paralyxia, seistica, neuralgia rheumatism, nervous headache, the after-effects of la grippe, palpitation of the heart, pale and sallow complexions, [and] all forms of weakness in male or female."

History[edit]

In 1890, G. T. Fulford & Company obtained the rights to produce Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People, and began marketing it through Dr. Williams Medicine Company. Reverend Enoch Hill of M.E. Church of Grand Junction in Iowa, endorsed the product in many 1900s advertisements, saying that it energized him and cured his chronic headaches. Eventually, the product came to be advertised around the world in 82 countries, including its native Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. In the late 19th century, the pills were marketed in the UK by the American businessman John Morgan Richards.[2]

The Pink Pills were widely used across the British Empire and, as the historian of Southeast Asia, Mary Kilcline Cody, puts it, "If the invulnerability magic of the solar topi, the spine pad and the cholera belt failed, Europeans could always rely on the Pink Pills to alleviate the pressures of bearing the white man's burden". "[3]

In the early 1890s, the publicity for the product was written by John MacKenzie. In 1892, he was made manager of the medicine company, and held that position until his retirement in 1929. When George Taylor Fulford, Sr., the Canadian senator that founded G. T. Fulford & Company, died in 1905 in an automobile accident, George Taylor Fulford II became involved in the family business.

Today, the home of George Taylor Fulford, Sr. in Brockville, Ontario, Fulford Place, is a tourist attraction that showcases the success of patent medicine products. It was acquired by the Ontario Heritage Foundation in 1991. In 2001 they formally put a plaque outside his home with a brief biography.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Martin, Rebecca. Cool Things - Pink Pills for Pale People, Kansas Historical Society kansapedia, July 2002 (retrieved 12 July 2013)
  2. ^ .George Fulford and Victorian Patent Medicine Men: Quack Mercenaries or Smilesian Entrepreneurs? (Lori Loeb, CBMH/BHCM, Volume 16: 1999, pp.125-45)
  3. ^ Mary Kilcline Cody, 'A Paler Shade of White', in Jan van der Putten and Mary Kilcline Cody, eds, Lost Times and Untold Tales from the Malay World, NUS Press, 2009, pp.82-96