Anacin was invented by William Milton Knight and was first to be used circa 1916 as stated in the patent. Anacin is one of the oldest brands of pain relievers in the United States, first being sold in the 1930s. Anacin's mascot at the time was Ana Anacin, who was found in a number of ads for this product by Bayer.
It was originally sold by the Anacin Co. ("Pharmaceutical Chemists") in Chicago, Illinois. American Home Products, now known as Wyeth, purchased the manufacturing rights in 1930. Anacin was reportedly their most popular product. Insight Pharmaceuticals acquired the brand in 2003. In 2014, Prestige Brands signed an agreement with Insight to acquire the company; it was Prestige Brand's largest acquisition to that point.
In 1939, Anacin sponsored a daytime serial called Our Gal Sunday. Their sponsorship spanned 18 of the program's 23 years on the air. Early Anacin radio commercials appeared in radio shows and dramas of the 1940s and '50s. These "formulaic" commercials usually claimed that Anacin was being actively prescribed by doctors and dentists at the time, treated "headaches, neuritis and neuralgia", and that it contained "a combination of medically proven ingredients, like a doctor's prescription", without specifying those ingredients. Sometimes the announcer would mention that there were four active ingredients in Anacin, one of which was the medicine the consumer was already taking. It also claimed to help with depression. The announcer then reminded the listener that Anacin was available "at any drug counter", and "comes in handy (tin) boxes of 12 and 30, and economical family-size bottles of 50 and 100", usually spelling out its name at the end of the commercial.
Anacin sponsored the first made-for-television sitcom, Mary Kay and Johnny. Unsure of how many viewers would be watching when they sponsored the show in 1947, Anacin ran a simple test, offering a free mirror to the first 200 viewers to write for one. The offer drew over 9,000 responses, overwhelming the sponsor but proving television was a viable advertising medium.
Anacin is one of the earliest and best examples of a concerted television marketing campaign, created for them in the late 1950s by Rosser Reeves of the Ted Bates ad agency. Many people remember the commercials advertising "tension producing" situations, and the "hammers in the head" advertisement with the slogan "Tension. Pressure. Pain."
An Anacin advertisement in 1962 featured a mother trying to assist her grown daughter with various chores, such as preparing a meal. "Don't you think it needs a little salt?", the mother would say, only to have her nerve-racked daughter shout, "Mother, please, I'd rather do it myself!" As the mother wilted, the daughter would emote and rub her head, with her inner voice saying, "Control yourself! Sure, you've got a headache, you're tense, irritable, but don't take it out on her!" Another commercial had a wife greeting her husband as he pulled into their driveway in his car; the husband responded by yelling "Helen, can't you keep Billy's bike out of the driveway?!?" These advertisement scenarios became popular and were parodied a number of times, including in the Allan Sherman song "Headaches", the 1966 film The Silencers and the 1980 film Airplane.
Anacin had a large advertisement behind the center field fence of Yankee Stadium from the 1950s through 1973, until the stadium's 1974-75 renovation.
Anacin covers a family of pain relievers. There are currently two different formulations:
- Anacin Regular Strength – contains 400 mg ASA (aspirin) and 32 mg caffeine per tablet.
- Anacin Max Strength – contains 500 mg ASA and 32 mg caffeine per tablet.
Anacin's side effects may include dizziness, heartburn, irritability, nausea, nervousness, rashes, hives, bloody stools, drowsiness, hearing loss, ringing in the ears, and trouble sleeping.
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