Vick's VapoRub, produced by the Vick Chemical Company of Greensboro, North Carolina, was a common remedy used for relieve flu symptoms.
During the pandemic, the company produced the "Spanish Influenza Series," consisting of six advertisements:
Ad No. 1: Spanish Influenza--What It Is And How It Should Be Handled: Nothing New--Simply the Old Grip, or la Grippe, That Was Epidemic in 1889-90, Only Then It Came From Russia By Way of France and This Time By Way of Spain.
Ad No. 2: How To Use Vick's VapoRub In Treating Spanish Influenza: The Influenza Germs Attack the Lining of the Air Passages. When VapoRub is Applied Over Throat and Chest the Medicated Vapors Loosen the Phlegm, Open the Air Passages and Stimulate the Mucous Membrane to Throw Off the Germs.
Ad No. 3: Spanish Influenza--The Way To Treat It And Avoid It: Simply the Old-Fashioned Grip Masquerading Under a New Name.
Ad No. 4: Spanish Influenza--A New Name For An Old Familiar Disease: Simply the Same Old Grip That Has Swept Over the World Time and Again. The Last Epidemic in the United States Was in 1889-90.
Ad. No. 5: Spanish Influenza--Just Grip Camouflaged Under a New Name
Ad. No. 6: The Way To Use VapoRub For Spanish Influenza: The Influenza Germs Attack the Lining of the Air Passages. When VapoRub is Applied Over Throat and Chest the Medicated Vapors Loosen the Phlegm, Open the Air Passages and Stimulate the Mucous Membrane to Throw Off the Germs.
The company marketed VapoRub so well that it could not keep up with demand. The company had to temporarily discontinue its "special November deal," and asked newspapers to cancel the Spanish Influenza series. The company later announced that it was producing more than one million jars of VapoRub per week, was able to meet demand, and was renewing the "special November deal" through the end of March 1919.
Burnham's Soluble Iodine and Other Products
The Vick Chemical Company wasn't the only business profiting from the pandemic. The article "The Epidemic and the Profiteer" warns of patent medicine firms using the pandemic "to their own financial advantage." Whereas the article does not name any of the companies in question, the final paragraph appears to describe Vick's VapoRub. This article appeared in the Bulletin of the State Board of Public Health of Rhode Island, and was reprinted in the North Carolina's The Health Bulletin.
"Signs of the Times," also published in The Health Bulletin, shows numerous advertisements for products promoted during the pandemic. Products include: Father John's Medicine, Gude's Pepto-Mangan, Borine, Vaseline Eucalyptol Petroleum Jelly, Laxative Bromo Quinine Tablets, Vick's VapoRub, and Sanford's Ginger.
The April 1919 issue of the Charlotte Medical Journal includes a testimonial about the effectiveness of Burnham's Soluble Iodine, stating, "in the hands of a great many physicians, Burnham's Soluble Iodine has seemed to posses almost specific properties in this epidemic type of influenza."