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A look back at worms

Admittedly, this is not the  most pleasant subject ever dealt with in this column.  Like all other days of the year, July 15 also has silly designations—Take Your Pet to Work Day, National Tapioca Pudding Day, etc.  But it is also Gummi Worm Day.

Most everyone likes Gummi candies.  They were first made in the shape of bears in Germany in 1921.  The company that manufactured these sweet treats had been started by a man named Hans Riegel just a year earlier.  Germany was suffering as a result of its defeat  in the World War, but it was still a democratic country and would remain so until the archfiend Hitler seized power about a dozen years later.

In time, chewy Gummi candies would be produced in several different shapes, including bottles, frogs, hamburgers, sharks, toy soldier, hearts, feet, faces—and worms.

But to many southerners, and impoverished people in other parts of the United States as well, worms were no laughing matter.  During Reconstruction following the Civil War and the Great Depression beginning in the fall of 1929 many poor people in this part of the country suffered from worm infestations.  This was mainly because their families did not have enough money to buy shoes.  Or, if they had footwear, it would be used on Sundays when it was time to worship God.  Many nonsoutherners have made fun of our people for not wearing shoes.  Once again, however, this was a matter of dollars and cents.  It was not because they preferred to go barefoot.  The following are some of the remedies for different types of worm problems from which our people suffered when they could not afford shoes for daily wear.

Worms (general)

Annihilators (worms, coughs, pain, insects)

Expellers (see Annihilators)

Brown’s Male Fern Vermifuge

Worm cordials (contents not stated)

Frey’s Vermifuge (castor oil)

Kennkle’s Vegetable Worm Syrup (alcohol, molasses)

Best’s Worm Cure

Booth’s Worm Lozenges

Boulanger’s French Worm Candy

Brady’s Worm Lozenges

Comstock’s Dead Shot Worm Pellets

Dr. Bull’s Worm Destroyer

Dr. Hobson’s Laxative Santonin Worm Syrup

Fessenden’s Worm Expeller

G.E.S.S. Sad on Worms Vermifuge

Hart’s King Worm Killer

Hart’s Worm Cream

Henry’s Worm Candy

Hepburn’s Worm Destroyer

Jacque’s German Worm Cakes

Leonard’s Sweet Worm Wafers

Abbott’s Worm Chocolates

Magnetic Worm Destroyer

Mohawk Death to Worms

Morrison’s Dead Sure Worm Medicine

Screw Worms

Jersey Screw Worm Killer

Tape Worms

Abbott’s Tape Worm Remedy

Field’s Famous Tape Worm Remedy

Indian Tape Worm Remedy

Tin Remedy


Thymol (“recommended as a remedy in tape-worm”)


Abram’s Tetter & Ringworm Ointment

Dick’s Ringworm & Tetter Ointment