October 31, 2007

Architectural Persuasion

Hood's Cook Book Number Three (not dated, circa late 1800s, 32 pages) is but one of the thousands of household booklets and recipe pamphlets published during the 19th and early 20th centuries that promoted patent medicines and other health remedies. Back then, visits to the doctor were not as common as they are now and many people turned to these types of products to cure themselves of their health-related issues.

The most successful of the many products manufactured by the C. I Hood & Co. Apothecaries was Hood's Sarsaparilla. Their product, made from the Sarsaparilla root, was used as a tonic and blood purifier. As noted inside, if you were suffering from maladies such as Scrofula, Salt-Rheum, Catarrh, Biliousness, Headache, Dyspepsia or any other blood disease, this was the product for you.

Hood, as both manufacturer and publisher of this pamphlet, sought to increase consumer confidence in their product in several ways. Customer testimonials and the constant repetition at the end of each recipe with the product name and it's positive effects were two of the methods used.

Another angle was to use the construction of their new office and factory as a means to convey a good solid public image of the company. They used the architecture of their facility as a selling point, trying to demonstrate to consumers that they were modern and thorough in their pursuits. The rear cover has an engraving of their new laboratory, with an extensive description in the front of the book.


It may truly be said that the new Laboratory of C. I. Hood & Co., in Lowell, Mass, is already one of the prominent landmarks of the city. Residents of the thriving municipality, in showing visiting friends the places of interest, with great local pride point to the Laboratory of C. I. Hood & Co. as
of the wonderful success of the greatest blood purifier of the age, Hood's Sarsaparilla. The new building is in a location which can hardly be surpassed. The lot of land, which embraces 70,000 square feet, is situated on Thorndike Street, near the heart of the city, on a high elevation; fronting on the east, the beautiful South Common, the largest of the city's BREATHING PLACES; adjoining, on the south, the expansive and well-kept grounds of the Middlesex County Jail, which is one of the most substantial and finest stone buildings in the country; overlooking on the north, the elegant residence and beautiful gardens of Mrs. Paul R. George; and touching, on the west, the line of the Boston & Lowell Railroad, from which a branch track is run directly to the rear of the Laboratory, sothat freight facilities are all that could be desired. The building is in full view of all passenger trains running over the railroad between Boston and Montreal, and is viewed and commented upon daily by thousands of passengers.
is in size 100 x 50 feet, four stories high, of brick, and constructed in as thorough and substantial a manner as the ledge upon which it rests. It is apparent to the most casual observer that it is constructed without regard to gaudy display, but for the purpose of doing business, thoroughly, quickly, conveniently, and well. Inside the building everything is found to be arranged with this object in view. The basement of the building is used for storage, reception of freight, and shipping by rail; connected with the basement, but in a separate building, is a boiler room, in which is a 40-horse power boiler used for heating, power of the elevator, etc. The first story is used for a printing office, storage of packed goods, and shipping by express. On the second floor are rooms for bottling and packing; a large counting room, where fifteen or twenty clerks, having charge of the
advertising and other branches of the business, are employed; and an elegantly fitted up private office. Electic calls communicate with every desk, and there are speaking tubes to all parts of the building. On the third floor is a large room for the massive tanks holding the Sarsaparilla. There are in actual use, six tanks, having a capacity of 90,000 bottles. On this floor there is also a bindery, where the printed sheets for the celebrated
Hood's Latest, Hood's Item, and other publications are folded and bound; and also rooms for the manufacture of Hood's Tooth Powder, Hood's Olive Ointment, and Hood's Vegetable Pills. The fourth floor is devotd to the manufacturing department or laboratory, and the storage of roots, herbs, etc. Everywhere the utmost neatness s observed; and the excellent system of the proprietors is closely adhered to.
is used in the manufacturing proesses, and from the first, there has been a constant, determined, and successful effort to make every bottle of Hood's Sarsaparilla as perfectly reliable as though it had been specially compounded by an expert pharmacist from a physician's prescription.

A brief sketch relating to Hood's Sarsaparilla will be found on the third page of the cover of this Cook Book, an an engraving of the Laboratory is given on the fourth page.

Hood's Sarsaparilla is sold by all druggists. Price $1 a bottle; six for $5. One Hundred Doses One Dollar."

The last paragraph is similar to the blurbs that are at the end of each recipe.

Did this inspire confidence in consumers back then? I don't know--it must have or so many manufacturers wouldn't have used this method.

I know that I am appreciative of Hood's use of this method over one hundred years later. By being able to read the detailed description of their factory in such detail, from this pamphlet, I can get a better picture in my mind of what their factory and offices must have been like back then.

Would I be impressed or swayed by such a description today? I doubt it, because I'm way too skeptical of any advertising these days.

Here in Houston they're building hospitals and other medical-related facilities almost at a faster rate than they're building new houses. I wasn't much impressed with the press concerning a new community hospital out in the western suburbs last year. It described in detail all of the new, state-of-the-art facilities and, finally, the price tag of $93 million.

What I mostly think about now when I drive past there is that somebody has to pay for this new building. And that somebody is probably consumers and their insurance companies.

Truth be told, since we probably didn't really need yet another hospital (a clone of the one 5 miles away and of the one five miles away from that one), I'm probably more inclined to go someplace that's already paid for.


At 6:57 PM CDT, Blogger T.W. Barritt said...

I had a severe case of billiousness today and could have used such a tonic ...

At 8:54 PM CDT, Blogger Kathy said...

t.w. - Gastric or grumpy? In either case, hope you will be feeling better soon. Perhaps some green tea?--today's modern cure-all. Not knocking green tea, btw--I drink it--just in case. :-)

At 6:25 PM CDT, Blogger ~~Louise~~ said...

Hi Kathy,
I Just had to let you know how excited I was to discover this gem of a post. The information blended so well with my post for National Candy Month.


Post a Comment

<< Home