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Carter's Little Liver Pills tell you what I think fills you

October 18, 2013 - Paul Giannamore
I said it without thinking today, something about having more of something “than Carter’s got Little Liver Pills.”

And I admit, finally, to not knowing what the heck a Carter’s Little Liver Pill is.

I think it was my Dad who used to use the whole Carter’s line.

“You’ve got more BS than Carter has Little Liver Pills.”

That sort of thing.

But today, after 51 years and a month on the planet, I decided not to just say the Carter’s line.

I looked it up on the Internet.

And as you know, everything is true on the Internet, right?

Well, there’s a lot about Carter and the Little Liver Pills, and, after an hour of reading, I finally gave up and decided to summarize what it seems might be true.

Carter lived in Erie, Pa. He came up with some kind of laxitive formula in the late 1860s. The pills stayed in production at least until the 1960s. There was a TV commercial on YouTube where a distinguished British-sounding gentleman using a poster told viewers of how the pills made the liver fill up our colon with extra digestive juices and, well, kablam.

Or something like that.

I was too busy imitating the British guy’s overly distinguished voice discussing the least distinguished thing about being a human to really learn.

And I’m not sure if this fact proves true, not having found actual scientific study nor having sent a Carter’s Little Liver Pill off for testing, but apparently Mr. Carter came up with bisacodyl a long time before it became marketed in every pharmacy under a variety of brands.

Bisacodyl. The stuff they give you before a colonoscopy to assist in clearing the, uh, field of vision for the doctor.

So, apparently this little patent medicine of the 1860s became popular enough that folks born in the first half of the 20th century used its presence as an idiom.

Seems a gentlemanly way of telling another person what they’re full of.

Knowing that, I think I will work to singlehandedly restore common use of this one.


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