History of Vicks Vapor Rub

Written by jason chavis
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History of Vicks Vapor Rub
(Asim18; Public Domain)

Vicks Vapo Rub was created by a company originally called the Vick Family Remedies Company. It was part of a line of products. Its success first peaked in 1918 with the onset of the Spanish flu pandemic in the United States. While the company was a family business, it was eventually bought by Procter & Gamble in an effort to round out the company's product line.

Company Origins

Lunsford Richardson took control of his family business, a drugstore, in 1890. While experimenting with new medical remedies, he created the Vicks brand of products. He named the product after his brother-in-law.


In 1898, Richardson began to market his product to wholesale dealers. Along with twenty additional products, the Vick Family Remedies Company became one of the best-selling brands in North Carolina.


Vick's introduced its "Magic Croup Salve" in 1905. In 1912, it was rebranded "Vapo Rub" at the request of Smith Richardson, Lunsford's oldest son.


Due to the flu pandemic of 1918, the sales figures for Vicks Vapo Rub rose from £585,000 to £1.9 million in a single year. The salve was used by a number of medical practitioners to help relieve the symptoms of the illness.

Buy Out

In 1985, the Vicks Chemical Company was sold to Proctor & Gamble. Procter & Gamble continued to profit from the popularity of Vicks Vapo Rub, moving the manufacturing facilities to India and Mexico.

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