Although many products of the 60s and 70s are still manufactured in the 21st century, many others have become distant memories in the minds of those who grew up during those twenty years. I was two years old when the 60s began and four years out of high school when the 70s ended. Come with me as I remember Mercurochrome and Ayds Diet Candies, two of the products which did not withstand the test of time.
Mercurochrome, or merbromin, was a staple of many family medicine cabinets. Any time my brother or I fell and cut ourselves on the sidewalk or received an open wound which did not need stitches but did require disinfecting, the bottle of Mercurochrome was taken out. The sight of it was enough to make me cry louder than I already was. No matter how gently the liquid reddish-brown medication was applied, it stung. I guess my parents figured anything which stung that badly had to be killing all the nasty germs.
On articles about this first aid product, some people have commented that Mercurochrome did not sting. They probably only used the stuff which was in a water-based solution. There was a Mercurochrome product which was in an alcohol-based solution. I am positive my mother used the Mercurochrome with alcohol. After reading some comments left by Mercurochrome admirers, I should be thankful my mother never used it inside my mouth for canker sores or inflamed tonsils. Some parents did.
Mercurochrome can not be found on the shelves of any United States discount store today. Mercurochrome contained mercury and in 1978, any antiseptic first aid product with mercury as an ingredient was suspect. But no one had died from the use of the product. The health risks of Mercurochrome had never been weighed against its touted benefits so Mercurochrome was placed on a “generally recognized as safe” list. Although the Food and Drug Administration began action to remove Mercurochrome from the list in 1982, it was not accomplished until 1998. In that year, the Food and Drug Administration wrote the obituary of this popular first aid treatment. The FDA said Mercurochrome did not actually do what the advertising claimed it could do, nor was it safe for use. Any future manufacture and sale of the antiseptic had to be accompanied by strict testing as if it were a brand new product. Too expensive for the manufacturers of Mercurochrome, so the first aid antiseptic of the 60s and 70s disappeared from the shelves. My children will never know from what they have been saved.
My mother fought a never-ending battle to lose weight. She tried many things during my teen years to become as trim as she was on the day she married my father. I had problems with self-image (what teenage girl growing up in those years didn’t?) and thought I was fatter than any of the other girls in my high school class. When Ayds diet candies came on the market, my mother eagerly bought a box of the chocolate-flavored kind. The idea was to eat two squares of candy about a half hour before each meal. The Ayds candy would suppress your appetite and prevent you from gorging yourself.
As I remember, the candy tasted fine, although not as good as a milk chocolate candy bar. Ayds was chewy and came in caramel, chocolate, chocolate mint, peanut butter, and butterscotch flavors. Ayds diet candies were marketed at first with Benzocaine as the active ingredient. If you have ever applied a teething ointment to your baby’s gums, you have used a benzocaine product. If you have sprayed an itchy rash with something that reduces the itch, you have most likely used a benzocaine product. Ayds was later marketed with phenylpropanolamine or PPA as the active ingredient. Then the FDA issued an Advisory Alert about PPA in 2000 when studies seemed to indicate a link to increased risk of hemorrhagic stroke. When the deadly disease AIDS made the news in the mid-80s, Ayds diet candy sales declined. Whether it was due to the name similarities or the introduction of other diet products, we may never know. Ayds as a dietary supplement is no longer available in the United States.
You can view a vintage Ayds Diet Candy television commercial by clicking here.
http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2518/what-happened-to-mercurochrome The Straight Dope: “What Happened to Mercurochrome?”
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-mercurochrome.htm WiseGeek: “What Is Mercurochrome?”
http://www.diet-blog.com/06/the_ayds_diet_pill.php Diet Blog: “The Ayds Diet Pill”
http://www.articlesbase.com/weight-loss-articles/ayds-weight-loss-candy-728395.html “Ayds Weight Loss Candy”