“KRUSCHEN SALTS” shouted an advertisement in London Opinion2 January 1915 “ARE ALL BRITISH”. The advertisement featured a drawing of a bulldog – ‘The British Bulldog – His faces sloped backwards so that he can breathe without letting go’ – with two Union flags behind. The message is clear: Kruschen Salts may sound German, but they are not. After a large font text singing the praises of the salts, two smaller columns inform the reader about the use of Kruschen at the Front, and ‘The Word Kruschen’:
The trademark “Kruschen” is a legacy – handed down from generation to generation of the family of Evan Griffiths Hughes, the sole Manufacturers of Kruschen Salts, and one of the oldest firms of Manufacturing Chemists in the County of Lancashire. Established 1754 – 160 years ago.
This was during the reign of George II (King of Great Britain and Ireland, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, and prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire), a time when German names were more acceptable than in 1915, though the great rush to anglicise German names came after the sinking of the Lusitania in May.
The huge market for proprietary medicines became a minor battleground of the war. The chief item fought over was Aspirin, the trade-name used by Bayer from 1899 for acetylsalicylic acid. From the beginning of October 1914 notices appeared in the British press stating that themedicine ‘sold under the German trade name of Aspirin is now being prescribed and supplied chemists under the British trade name of Helicon. Its chemical constitution is identical in every particular’ (Illustrated London News 3 October 1914). The name certainly did not catch on, and archive searches for the period are ore likely to show it as the name of a racehorse. In France Aspirin continued to be called Aspirin (Le Figaro 7 January 1916), though usually with the highly visible tag stating that the medicine was made in l’usines de Rhône (factories along the Rhône, rather than in Germany).
As an example of ‘ones that got away’ the early-war use of the term ‘Germ-hun’ in Britain was not taken up in advertisements for proprietary cleaning products. In France however, one advertisement for Jubol, a medicine for constipation and haemorrhoids, showed a poilu, labelled ‘Jubol’, chasing a German soldier, labelled ‘Microbe’, out of a large intestine (La Vie Parisienne 21 July 1917); as the German soldier is shown wearing a pickelhaube, he could have been in there for some time.
Boots early in the war joined in the ‘Hun-bashing’ enthusiastically, a double-page advertisement in Punch 23 December 1914 showing the Kaiser followed by four soldiers and dachshund carrying Lysol, Aspirin, Sanatogen and 4711 Koln-Wasser back to Berlin. Sanatogen seems to have escaped association with the enemy, as did Lysol; Koln-Wasser had a favourable alias, eau de cologne.
Boots, the pharmaceutical chain, made a half-hearted attempt to deal with this issue as early as 10 September 1914. On that day there appeared in the Daily Mail an advertisement headlined ‘Boots eau de cologne for British people’. It stated that ‘innumerable enquiries having been made by the public for a genuine British Eau de Cologne to replace the German article, Sir Jesse Boot has arranged that Boots Pure Drug Co.’ would solve the problem of people having to splash themselves with something that sounded paradoxically both French and German. The two products that would resolve the issue were ‘Boots (late Lareine’s) Jersey Castle’ (‘which has been increasingly popular for years’) and ‘Boots White Heather’ (‘Possesses remarkable antiseptic properties’). However, both were still, albeit discreetly, subtitled ‘Eau de Cologne’. Perhaps Boots were hoping this would be passed over due to the presence of a box within the advertisement, entitled ‘IMPORTANT WAR NOTICE’: ‘Boots the Chemists will supply every Hospital and Nursing Home established to receive either British Soldiers or Sailors or Territorials with Boots Eau de Cologne at specially reduced rates until further notice …’
Eau de cologne, sold under brand names of Harrod’s, Yardley, Luce, Jay’s, Atkinson’s and others, continued to be sold till the end of the war, but it was 1924 before the famous German 4711 brand became re-established in Britain.