Along with its more famous products, the Company made some lesser-known and more unusual products in its early days. One of these products was Vino Kolafra, a restorative tonic made from kola nut extract with a sherry base.
The formation of the Coca-Cola Company in 1893 and its subsequent advertising campaigns helped spark interest in tonic preparations among the population of the United States. Johnson & Johnson introduced Vino Kolafra in 1894, advertising it as a calmer of nerves, an imparter of strength, a convalescent aid and as encouraging workers to “do more work with less effort and better results. Vino Kolafra was discontinued when it was discovered that workers were indeed doing more than expected: they were sampling the sherry base in increasing quantities.
Although Mosquitoons would win the prize for most humorous product name, they addressed a serious health concern. Mosquitoons were pyramid-shaped fumigators designed to kill mosquitoes, which were disease carriers as well as pests. Users were instructed to light them and then leave the house. The package reassured purchasers that Mosquitoons would not harm metal or clothing…leaving us to draw our own conclusions about the unintended effects of other pest removal products on the market at that time!
One of the strangest things Johnson & Johnson made were Court Plasters, which were little beauty spots made from leftover materials used to make medicated plasters. The Company would take a small amount of this material and make it into stars, moons and other shapes, which women put on their face to accentuate what they considered their most beautiful feature. Pictures of early theater and film actresses often show them wearing beauty spots – which look like moles, but on closer inspection are little stick-on dots, stars and crescents.