142 Years Ago In Sedalia: Dr Bull Really Wanted You To Buy His Cough Syrup
Advertisement is a part of our lives. After all, you can't know about a service or product you need unless someone tells you they have it, right? You're not psychic (OR ARE YOU?). Businesses have to tell you what they provide, what they can do to help you, you know how it goes. And these days, sometimes they can be pretty subtle or extravagantly blatant. Both work, after all. It gets the message across.
But back in the day in good old Sedville, subtle we were not. I counted in one issue of the Sedalia Bazoo from around this time of year in 1878 not one, not even three, but NINE "subtle" ads for a product called Dr Bull's Cough Syrup. And this guy was determined for you to buy this stuff. He makes sure to reach out to all types of people in, in my opinion, anyway, hilarious fashion. I don't know who Dr Bull was, but I have some skepticism - he might have been a snake oil salesman. Let's check out the nine different ways he was trying to convince your Great Great Grandparents to buy his stuff.
1. Kindness, if nothing stronger, should induce anyone to use Dr Bull's Baby Syrup for the relief of the disease of babyhood. Price, 25 cents.
The disease of babyhood? What, is he going to just END the kids? Like euthanasia? Out of kindness? Or maybe, was there a specific "baby disease" back then?
2. "When the swallows homeward fly", This is the time when coughs and colds begin to appear. Dr Bull's Cough Syrup cures every case, Price, 25 cents.
I....may be stupid, but I do not get this. At all. I guess winter migration? What really gets me in this is that these little advertisements are in the columns of the paper, they'd almost look like news snippets if you didn't read them.
3. Preserve your baby's health by promptly administering Dr Bull's Baby Syrup for the diseases of early childhood. Price, 25 cents a bottle.
I guess they really do mean baby diseases. Maybe there really were diseases only babies got. That Can Be Cured With My Magic Syrup!
4. Fashion Notes - Fur collars are little worn by ladies this season, and this will cause many severe coughs and colds. Dr Bull's Cough Syrup is a certain and safe cure in every case. Price 25 cents.
Aaaaah, see, he's appealing to your fashion sense. And I guess making you feel bad about not wearing fur? Does he have a side business in the fur industry? Maybe.
5. Amusements - Theater goers and all such as keep late hours are very liable to contract a severe cough or cold. A safe and reliable cure is Dr Bull's Cough Syrup. The price is only 25 cents.
So now we're targeting the artsy/late night crowd. If you're out late at a play, you're going to catch a cold, obviously. Because the germs don't come out until it gets dark. Wait, what was the price again? 27 cents? I just can't seem to remember.
6. The diseases of babyhood are so rapidly weakening that the quickest means should be used to check them. Dr Bull's Baby Syrup is the unfailing remedy for those complaints. Price, 25 cents.
See Mom, you're being a bad mother if you don't get this syrup. Your baby needs this RIGHT NOW.
7. A ship wrecked sailor waiting for a sail is like a business man sitting at home and nursing a cough or cold. Get Dr. Bull's Cough Syrup and be cured. Only 25 cents a bottle.
Um, do what now? What does any of this have to do with sailors? Is this the same syrup we're giving to the baby?
8. The best physicians assure us that Dr Bull's Cough Syrup is a reliable and never failing remedy. All druggists keep it. 25 cents a bottle.
Even doctors tell you to buy it. Although this kind of sounds like the "nine of out ten dentists agree" method. Who are these doctors? Nobody is listed there. The only "Doctor" I see is Dr. Bull! The glorious, never wavering, all loving Dr Bull.
9. Sleep is absolutely necessary for health, and nothing so effectually robs one of sleep as does a crying baby. Use Dr Bull's Baby Syrup to cure its pain and the baby will be quiet and allow all to sleep well. Price, 25 cents a bottle.
This is where it cemented my "this is fishy" instinct. Are we just going to knock out the baby? What, is it like that old thing where people would put bourbon in the bottle to knock the baby out? And, keep in mind, the paper has long, narrow columns side by side. The last three were in columns right next to each other. Gettin' a little spammy, Dr Bull.
There's letting a customer know about a service or product, and then there's spam. Just goes to show you, even back in the day they got junk mail.