News From Terre Haute, Indiana

December 21, 2013

Historical Treasure: It’s cold season! Get your remedies here…

Kimberly Smith
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Now officially winter season, inevitable colds and flu will start to make their rounds, and we will once again flock to area pharmacies and stock up on remedies. In our pharmacy exhibit at the Vigo County Historical Museum, remedies of old line the shelves reminding us of the many concoctions druggists assembled to help our ailing ancestors. One remedy was ready made, or what we consider today over-the-counter, and called Bear’s Jack Frost.

Bear’s Jack Frost was a topical cream that, by its advertisement, “relieves inflammation for cold in the head and sore tender skin,” which included chapped lips and sore throats.  Made locally in the laboratory of Bear’s Manufacturing Company located on north 16th Street between Tippecanoe and Chase Streets (or as they state, 16th and Vandalia R.R.), the cream came packaged in a small-lidded tin, most likely for easy accessibility from a pocket or purse. Larger containers were available and were packaged in milk glass jars. The lids had their signature logo of a polar bear, teeth bared and looking to pounce — maybe to conquer sore throats and skin? If not, the cool blues and the white polar bear make the packaging appealing; by just looking it can make one feel less “inflamed.”

In addition to the topical cream, Bear’s Manufacturing Company also produced such items as face creams, hair and face tonics, and toilet waters; all supplied to local druggists and barbers for their use and resale.

To see Bear’s Jack Frost and other remedies, visit the Vigo County Historical Museum’s pharmacy exhibit. And I hope a simple cream like Bear’s Jack Frost can soothe winter’s ills this season.