ASCII by Jason Scott

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Snake Oil —

A little side-track on the weekend; a friend of mine didn’t believe me when I said this product was being sold in the checkout line of my supermarket, so I bought a bottle to prove it, and since that’s $13 (!!) wasted, the least I can do is amortize the ha-ha by sharing it with my weblog audience.

There’s this sleep aid product called “Rescue Sleep” that’s sold, as I said, in supermarket check-out lines, in that impulse rack that has gum, candy bars, Archie comics and small booklets telling you how to predict the future. I occasionally look for new sleep aids because I am a very poor sleeper. It comes in a little spray, which looks normal enough:

Good enough, and maybe you might even convince yourself that $13 is a fantastic price for such a trusted name in such sleep aids, until you actually take the time to read the ingredients list:

This stuff is hooch!

On one hand I’m somewhat horrified, but on the other hand I’m delighted that even in the modern day and age, the world hasn’t yet grown so sophisticated to completely and utterly reject the idea that alcohol in a sleep aid is an “inactive ingredient”. I was recently reading a book that mentioned this very situation, except it was talking about 1897, not 2007. Such opportunities still exist for grifters, snake oil salesmen, and confidence tricksters, even if they’ve replaced a slick suit and a crooked smile for a hiptop and caps. The more things change, the more we still get ripped off.

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  1. My dad is quick to throw out the fact that, as kids, my sister and I were regularly given “whiskey and honey”, both as “homemade cough syrup” and as “sleep aid,” especially as babies cutting teeth. This is about the time he calls me a wimp and mentions the fact that both my sister and I were brought home from the hospital as babies sitting on my mother’s lap, without a car seat, in the front of a pickup that didn’t even have seat belts …

  2. Krisjohn says:

    My response to Rob’s comment is that you don’t hear from the people that sort of behaviour killed.

  3. Stacia says:

    If that’s Bach’s Rescue Sleep, I think it’s another version of their very popular Rescue Remedy. Like almost all herbal tinctures, it comes in an alcohol base, but since you’re only sold a few tablespoons of it (and you’re only supposed to take a few drops) it’s not a big deal. Rescue Remedy does indeed calm down cats, but it’s never made mine sleep. Some people take Rescue Remedy, but I never have. I have had other tinctures in alcohol though, and they worked, but not because of the booze.