Igniting Cough Drops

November 13, 2009 at 6:53 am 2 comments

Violent candies: It’s not about the taste, but about the action. Pop Rocks explode in your mouth. Extreme Sours of all sorts burn the skin off your cheeks. Wintergreen Lifesavers emit sparks when chomped in the dark. Dear candy, don’t just sit there; DO SOMETHING!

How delightful it must have been for whoever discovered the igniting cough drop, back in 1913. One typically seeks such medicated confection for its soothing, cooling properties. One does not expect pyrotechnics.

Woman Taking Throat Lozenge

A popular cough lozenge ingredient in the day was chlorate of potash; mixed up with a little sugar, it promised a tasty and effective treatment for respiratory discomfort. But when you rubbed the lozenge on the igniting strip of a safety-match box, watch out! The lozenge would light up like a match and burn.

It’s a cough drop. No, it’s a match. No, it’s a cough drop AND a match!

Confectioners Journal called it “killing two birds with one stone.” One wonders how it could have been as tasty as claimed. Of course, in 1913 those chalky Necco-style wafers were popular, too.

Source: “Killing Two Birds With One Stone” Confectioners Journal, Jan. 1914 p. 93

More: Chemistry expert Anne Marie Helmenstine explains Candy Triboluminescence (those sparks from Wintergreen Lifesavers).

Entry filed under: 1890 to WW I, Candies We Miss, Ingredients, Medicine, Science. Tags: , , , , , .

Ye Olde Candy Shoppe Candy Making in Brooklyn, 1908

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Carl Weaver  |  November 16, 2009 at 12:29 pm

    That’s pretty interesting. I assume today’s cough drops don’t do that, which is a shame, really, when you consider that I have so many here at the office and occasionally like to show off to my office mates. On the other hand, it’s probably best that the igniting cough drop is a thing of the past. I’d hate to accidentally set anything on fire.

    Reply
    • 2. CandyProfessor  |  November 17, 2009 at 10:51 am

      And imagine the fun the lawyers would have with that!

      Reply

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Candy: A Century of Panic and Pleasure

Welcome to Candy Professor

Candy in American Culture What is it about candy? Here you'll find the forgotten, the strange, the curious, the surprising. Our candy story, one post at a time.

Samira Kawash, PhD
Professor Emerita,
Rutgers University

(C) Samira Kawash

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