Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

April 24, 2010


Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Hadacol was a good tonic for me before heading off to school.  Following breakfast, I would take “my medicine.”  At least that was what I thought it was!  It was supposed to keep me well, and to help my body be strong.  And as a 14 and 15 year old, that was important.

Everyone knew about Hadacol.  It was a patent medicine marketed as a vitamin supplement.  It was advertised to help almost everything.  It had been patented by Dudley LeBlanc, a state Senator from Louisiana.  His genius for advertising made Hadacol a household word.  He had developed the name from letters of a previous business he had. He was often asked why he named this medicine Hadacol.   His response was, “Well, I hadda’ call it something!” 

The nation was inundated with the promotion of this product.  Radio was flooded with commercials.  Billboards were everywhere.  An entire page in the newspaper with testimonies and pictures was seen almost daily.  LeBlanc revived the old western medicine show and featured a Traveling Medical Show.  In 1950, he launched the first of the Hadacol Caravans.  It consisted of 130 vehicles and traveled across the south playing one-night stands.  Admission could be paid by presenting two box tops from Hadacol.  Featured guests were Mickey Rooney, Bob Hope, Lucille Ball, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Roy Acuff, and Minnie Pearl.  Later, circus acts were added, and Groucho Marx and Judy Garland became regulars.  In 1951, he employed a train, known as The Hadacol Special.  Again, shows were in the cities across the nation.  Featured were clowns, beauty contests, and give-aways.  Guests were Jack Dempsey, Milton Berle, Jimmy Durante, Hank Williams, and many others.  Hadacol was the second largest advertiser in America, after Coca-Cola.  There was a jingle that swept across American about Hadacol.  It was called the Hadacol Jingle and was recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis.

Newweek in 1951 reported, “What’s Hadacol?  Well, basically it’s a patent medicine — a little honey, a little of this and that, and a stiff shot of alcohol hyped up with vitamin B.  Actually, it’s a good deal more.  It’s a craze.  It’s a culture.  It’s a political movement.”  Indeed it was a fad that perhaps was more than this nation had encountered.

Thus you can understand why my family got into it.  I don’t remember that it tasted very good.  And as I recall, it was a dark looking liquid that you would hesitate to swallow — except for the fact, it was good for me!  I think I went off to school every morning feeling like I was a superman.  I believe that I felt more superior in facing my academic challenges, as well as social contacts and involvement.  I believe it gave me a prowess on the basketball court that I had never known.  I couldn’t explain it, but I truly felt that way.

Of course, there was a sudden end to taking my morning, and sometimes evening, medicine.  My parents learned the truth as did many other people.  Of course that truth made it more popular with some!  Did you catch that report from Newsweek?  They reported it had a “stiff shot of alcohol.”  No wonder I felt good!  A shot here, and a shot there of alcohol!  Who wouldn’t feel stronger, more masculine, more bold?   The truth was revealed!  This medicine was 12% alcohol!  The label did not say alcohol, but instead used the term “preservative.”

So, my alcohol consumption ended when I was 15 years old!  Miss that ole’ Hadacol!  Not really, I don’t need the Hadacol or alcohol!  Whatever courage and boldness I have today comes from that which Christ Jesus gives to me.  True manhood is not the product of what we consume or learn, but instead comes from Who controls and reigns within us.  I am empowered.  I give the credit to my Lord.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.”  (Psalm 28:7)  “When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.”  (Psalm 138:3)  “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  (Philippians 4:13)



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