Back to Top

Fascinating True Stories from the Flip Side of History

Monthly Archives: February 2018

Don’t Drink Sunlight Dish Detergent

On July 15, 1982 the Maryland Poison Control Center in Baltimore reported that 33 adults and 46 children had consumed a brand new lemon-scented dishwashing liquid named Sunlight.

Apparently free samples of the new soap had been mailed by manufacturer Lever Brothers throughout the mid-Atlantic States and as part of their product launch. I even remember my mom getting a bottle in the mail.

The bright yellow bottles featured a picture of a lemon slice along text indicating that the soap was made with “Real Lemon Juice.” You know what happened next. The bottle clearly stated “Caution: Harmful if Swallowed,” but people went right ahead and used it as lemon juice.

Whether they added it to their iced tea or whatever, the results were not pleasant. Most typically experienced nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sore throats, but none were serious.

Should one accidentally consume it, Poison Control advised to simply drink lots of water or milk to dilute it. Better yet: don’t drink it at all.

Sunlight Coupon
Coupon for Sunlight Dish Detergent from the December 8, 1982 publication of the Morristown, NJ Daily Record.
 

Glue Sniffing Fad

On July 5, 1962, Arizona state authorities tried to calm the public by telling them that the latest craze of glue sniffing was just a fad.

While there were calls to ban the sale of glue to minors and the public was in somewhat of a panic over how to deal with this situation, statistics did not back it up.

Statewide, records showed that there had been no fatalities or permanent damage from the sniffing of glue. Sixty-eight juveniles had been arrested for doing illegal things as the result of glue sniffing, but it was pointed out that this was far less than the number of teens arrested for alcohol consumption.

It was also noted that a number of cases were not reported to the police. Of those, there were reported cases of blindness, mental impairment, and addiction.
Most of the kids had been sniffing plastic model glue, which is more technically known as polystyrene cement. It’s active ingredient is Toluene and its effects were, in general, minor.

In 1967, Charles Miller, who was the president of Testor Corp, the leading manufacturer of model cars and airplanes, charged his employees to come up with a way to keep people from sniffing the glue to get high. Their solution was simple: horseradish was added to the glue. Miller shared this secret ingredient with all of his competitors and received a presidential letter of commendation for his efforts.

A bit of trivia about this is that Miller was the father of actress Susan St. James. She is mostly retired today, but you may remember her from her lead roles in McMillan and WIfe and Kate and Allie.

Vintage Model Glues
Vintage polystyrene glues from Pinterest.
 
Posted in Tidbits| Tagged , , , , , | 1 Reply

Exercise Fad is Dangerous

On October 27, 1939, the American Medical Association’s health magazine Hygeia printed a warning written by Dr. Henry A. Christian of Brookline, Massachusetts that the fad of excessive exercise was dangerous to one’s health.

In what is good news for all of you couch potatoes out there, the good doctor advised, “Moderate body activity, short of causing fatigue, is desirable for all, but this is entirely different from what is usually meant by exercise.”

He continued, “Most pernicious is the habit – so common in America – of the week-end or all-day golf game or the brief vacation with the days filled with incessant activity, often leads a life nearly devoid of physical exertion.”

Dr. Christian contended, “All too often people collapse or die as the result of unwanted exertion or precipitate an attack of serious heart disturbance, which then necessitates weeks of enforced rest.”

He did offer the following advice, “Here is a good rule to follow: If after one hour of relaxed rest, one is still conscious of considerable fatigue, next time shorten the amount or decrease the vigor of the exercise.”

Exercise an American Fetish
Exercise an American Fetish by Henry A. Christian appeared in the October 1939 issue of Hygeia on page 968. Click on the image to read the article.