Sunday, 24 June 2007

The saviour of the human race

Those readers who are of a prurient disposition (I’ll mention no names, you know who you are) and who therefore followed a link I gave recently to an improper extra verse to You’re the Top may have been puzzled by the reference to Miss Pinkham’s Tonic.

Here is the lady herself.
A resident of Lynn, Massachusetts, Lydia Pinkham first began developing home remedies after the near bankruptcy of her husband. Mass marketed from 1875 on, Lydia E. Pinkham's Vegetable Compound was one of the best known patent medicines of the 19th century.
Lydia and her "medicinal compound" are memorialized in the folk songs "The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham," and "Lily the Pink". A sanitized version of Lily the Pink was a number one hit for The Scaffold in the United Kingdom in 1968/69.

The reason a humble women's tonic was the subject of this and other ribald drinking ballads and an increasing success in the twenties and early thirties was its availability as a 40-proof patent eye-opener during Prohibition.

So we'll drink a drink a drink
To Lily the pink the pink the pink
The saviour of the human race.
She invented a medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case.

All this information is from Wikipedia, which also gives the full lyrics of this and other versions and describes in great detail the ingredients of the compound and its indications; it is still being manufactured.

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