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Lydia Pinkham
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Entrepreneur
    (February 9, 1819-May 17, 1883)
    Born in Lynn, Massachusetts
    Birth name was Lydia Estes
    Invented and marketed the patent medicine Pinkham's Vegetable Compound (1876)
    She claimed her medicine could cure any 'female complaint,' from nervous exhaustion to a prolapsed uterus.
    There was no medical support for her claims for her medicine.
    Her ads promoted myths about 'women's weakness' and 'hysteria.'
    Part of the reason her vegetable compound was so popular was that it was 36 proof (18% alcohol).
    Customers who wrote to the address printed on the bottles of her medicine would receive a written reply from 'Mrs. Pinkham' -- even decades after Lydia's death.
    When Ladies' Home Journal published a photo of Lydia's tombstone (1905), the Pinkham Company explained that the letters were being answered by her daughter-in-law, Jennie Pinkham.
    She joined an abolitionist society in her teens.
    She began marketing her vegetable compound after her husband was financially ruined in the Panic of 1873.
    Her business expanded from a basement kitchen where she mixed the formula herself, to a factory that brewed, bottled, and shipped enough vegetable compound to gross $300,000 a year (at $1 per bottle).
    She was so shocked by the ignorance of many of the female customers who wrote to her that she wrote and distributed a 'facts of life' pamphlet describing female reproductive health from puberty to menopause.
    Ironically, among the satisfied customers who volunteered testimonials in her ads were several temperance crusaders.
    She inspired a bawdy folksong, 'Lily the Pink,' which, with updated lyrics, became a #1 UK hit for the band Scaffold (1968).

Credit: C. Fishel


    For 2019, as of last week, Out of 21 Votes: 52.38% Annoying
 
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