When you joke about smarmy snake oil salesmen, did you know that there really were such people? Back in 1905, an American cowboy named Clark Stanley billed himself as the “Rattlesnake King”, gathering crowds by killing rattlesnakes while delivering his miracle cure sales pitch. For 50 cents a bottle (at a time when your income averaged $1 a day), you could cure your toothaches, neuralgia, ankle sprains and pretty much everything else that ailed you by using Stanley’s snake oil liniment.
Stanley kept making his magical promises – right up until the federal government seized one of his shipments in 1917 and tested it. Continue reading