James A. Landau
JJJRLandau at AOL.COM
Mon Dec 16 21:43:55 UTC 2002
In a message dated 12/16/02 3:57:02 PM Eastern Standard Time,
jan.ivarsson at TRANSEDIT.ST writes:
> "...the Vegetable Compound and other patent remedies of Lydia E. Pinkham
> become household standbys, and though the founder of the firm realized only
> limited wealth, her children and grandchildren had made "Lydia Pinkham"
> an eminently profitable industry."
> That may be the explanation for "Miss Pinkham's tonic".
Change "may" to "almost certainly is". Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound
was one of the most famous patent medicines of the first half of the 20th
I suspect that, like many of the "tonics" of that era, it's high alcoholic
content (30 proof) explains much of its popularity---it may even have been
the inspiration for the "Vitameatavegamin" that Lucille Ball made famous in a
fondly-remembered "I love Lucy" episode.
The old-fashioned "tonic" patent madicine went out of fashion in the US a
couple of generations ago, replaced (I say with some cynicisim) by "herbal
remedies" and various "organic" preparations. The last well-known tonic of
the old school is Geritol, which has contributed a phrase to American
English: "the Geritol generation". A similar patent medicine, "Carter's
Little Liver Pills' (actually a laxative) also contributed a phrase "more x
than Carter's has pills".
I wonder what it says for the United States than in the 1950's TV was full of
ads for laxatives but in the 1990's the ads were for painkillers.
As for "Roman arch", my best guess is "you're a Roman [Catholic}
Arch[bishop]" as opposed to say a mere priest.
- Jim Landau
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