Is anyone today using Listerine as a cure for gonorrhea? With maybe one or two bizarre exceptions, the answer is no. But in the 19th century, the odds would have been much higher.
When it was originally marketed over 100 years ago, Listerine was sold as a treatment for gonorrhea, as a floor cleaner and as a powerful antiseptic, according to the best-selling book "Freakonomics." Those uses may be a bit surprising, considering the product is today used for dental hygiene.
Listerine is not alone. Other products were once used for purposes other than those we use them for today. Coca-Cola was originally said to provide a cure for morphine addiction, impotence and headaches, and LSD was sold as a tool for psychoanalysis and personal growth.
Perhaps there is a lesson to be learned: Sometimes, it takes a few tries to get a product's purpose just right.
Below are some products and discoveries that were once marketed as something else:
Gunpowder was originally created by Chinese alchemists attempting to create an elixir for eternal life, according <a href="http://inventors.about.com/od/chineseinventors/a/gunpowder.htm" target="_hplink">About.com</a>. It seems the alchemists made the discovery on Opposite Day. Gunpowder was also used treat skin diseases and as an insect repellent.
Rogaine, or minoxidil, was originally produced as a treatement for high blood pressure, <a href="http://www.ehow.com/about_5035088_history-rogaine.html" target="_hplink">according to eHow</a>.
Viagra was originally devised as a treatment for hypertension and angina pectoris, <a href="http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fda-approves-viagra" target="_hplink">the History Channel reports.</a>.
Coca-Cola was originally marketed as a health drink, <a href="http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-204_162-10008981-5.html" target="_hplink">CBS News reports</a>. John Pemberton, its inventor, claimed Coke could cure impotence, headaches and morphine addiction.
Listerine was originally produced to be a powerful surgical antiseptic and was later marketed as a cure for gonorrhea as well as dirty floors, <a href="http://www.wattpad.com/328827-freakonomics-by-levitt?p=36" target="_hplink">according to "Freakonomics</a>."
The hallucinogenic drug was originally marketed as a tool for psychoanalysis and personal growth, <a href="http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2007/04/dayintech_0416/" target="_hplink">according to <em>Wired</em></a>. Dr. Albert Hofmann called the LSD "medicine for the soul."
Anesthesia was a popular recreational drug in the 19th century, <a href="http://science.howstuffworks.com/innovation/inventions/10-accidental-inventions10.htm" target="_hplink">according to HowStuffWorks</a>. Individuals would reportedly breathe ether and nitrous oxide at gatherings known as "laughing parties" and "ether frolics."
The New World
The New World, the Americas, or whatever you want to call it was found by men who believed they had reached Asia. It took years before anyone realized the Old World had stumbled upon something new.