If you’re looking for the worst tasting, foulest smelling, yet most effective cough remedy made in Canada, you’re going to hate loving Buckley’s original cough mixture.
Originally from Nova Scotia, William Knapp Buckley moved to Ontario in 1914 to attend the Ontario College of Pharmacy.
After graduation, he began working for Eaton’s and around 1919, he acquired a drugstore in Toronto near Church and Dundas St.
Having concocted a new non-drowsy, non-alcoholic, sugar free cough suppressant out of ingredients already being used individually to treat coughs and colds, he began peddling his product.
Originally offered in “strong or modified versions,” Buckley’s now has several products available including its “Original Mixture.”
Known for its bad taste commercials, Buckley’s “Original Mixture” lists only 4 active ingredients on its label.
Although the mixture does contain some pine needle oil, Buckley’s does not list it as an active ingredient on its label.
It was most likely used to cleverly disguise the real odour of the mixture, like a Christmas tree covers up the smell of coal left behind for naughty children, or an air-freshener hanging from a car’s rearview mirror.
At first glance, this home-brewed remedy has the look and consistency of phlegm.
No doubt, its white milky look comes from the 2.2 mg of white Camphor in every 5 ml teaspoon prescribed.
This combustible white, waxy substance with a nose tingling sensation similar to mothballs, comes from the bark of the Cinnamomum Camphora tree native to China and Japan.
It was most commonly used to sooth aches, pains and skin irritations.
If you’re brave enough to try this mixture, most likely brewed alongside a witch’s cauldron, then you may find its piney odour reminiscent of dirty paint brushes soaking in turpentine.
The 153 mg of ammonium carbonate you have just taken, also known as smelling salt, will definitely clear your sinuses.
Having swallowed the prescribed spoonful of camphor and ammonium filled nastiness, you may first find it slightly difficult to inhale.
But as the 22 mg of menthol cool your windpipes, you are again reminded of the “smelling salts” you have just swallowed.
If this mixture were any stronger, it would surely require some kind of warning label. Perhaps a tiny fire or skull and crossbones, would make you reconsidered taking it in the first place.
The last active ingredient, in each delightful spoonful, is potassium bicarbonate. Each of its 267 mgs is filled with electrolytes that allow the mixture to course through your body, and “helps the medicine go down.”
But as if this were some kind of magic potion, concocted in a dark cave by Merlin himself, this century-old miracle elixir begins to open your sinuses almost immediately. Your breathing becomes less strained, and the urge to cough, or clear your throat vanishes.
This may all sound a little hard to swallow, but it’s true.
In 1986, the company began advertising its new campaign slogan for Buckley’s original cough mixture.
“It tastes awful. And it works.”