The Blue Jar of Miracles: Vicks Vaporub


Great secrets lie within.

By Ostrander

23 March 2013

Hundreds of millions of gallant soldiers stand in silent sentry within a myriad homes around our Earth.  They request no pay, no meals, no breaks from the tedium, and they expect no thanks for their service.  They stand sentinel in the dark, patiently waiting for the desperate call to battle against a host of invisible enemies.  They vanquish countless foes, repair the broken, heal the sick.  Collectively we know this valiant army as “Vicks VapoRub”.

Now, sitting here in my worn-out chair, I can still remember the very first time that I encountered the amazing power of Vicks VapoRub.  I was four and stricken with a cold.  My dear grandmother had trouble twisting the lid off of that shiny blue jar, but when she did I will never forget the mentholyptic fragrance of those uncommonly vapory vapors until this very day.  She smeared the medicated paste on my neck and chest, and those magic white vapors engulfed me into a crisp world of minty enchantment, penetrating deep into my lungs to break up the congestion and clear the rawness of my throat.  I remember feeling that I must be someone very special for my grandmother to share those wonderful vapors with me, and that is why I share them with my grandchildren today![1]


VapoRub is old. Older than me, even.

To better understand this wondrous product, let us journey to its very beginning!  A noble and visionary genius named Lunsford Richardson introduced his careful mixture of menthol, camphor, eucalyptus oil, turpentine spirits, and a secret but essential ingredient in the 1890’s, calling it “Vick’s Croup and Pneumonia Salve”.  The product really took off during those terrifying months of the 1918 pandemic of Spanish Influenza: panicked buyers drove annual sales of Vick’s from $900,000 to $2.9 million within a single year.  Since that time, those blue jars have formed an essential component in countless medicine cabinets around the world,[2] and every jar ever sold could build seventeen Great Pyramids of Giza.  Nowadays, Vicks produces this phenomenal wonder in more than a dozen plants in India, Mexico, Australia, and its home state of North Carolina.  We must surely give thanks for the vision and goodness of Lunsford Richardson![3]

On its website, the Vicks subsidiary says they “would like to apologize for just how effective VapoRub can be”.[4]  This may seem odd to the reader, but I assure you that this apology is entirely necessary and not overstated!  I will explain.

  • The public widely understands that Vicks VapoRub cures coughing and clears respiratory congestion.
  • Of course VapoRub also relieves sore muscles and bones when applied on the skin above those troublesome regions.[5]
  • It is less well-known that VapoRub cures the unsightly affliction of fungus nails.[6]
  • When applied to the foundations of houses and around doors and windows, Vicks VapoRub acts as a pest repellent, driving away insects, rodents, and even snakes!
  • VapoRub removes gum from carpets or hair!
  • It protects tools from rust.  Just lather up your ratchet set or pliers for long-lasting protection from the elements!
  • VapoRub, with its vapory vapors, conceals nasty pet odors.  Clean that putrid litter box less often with a healthy application of Vicks to the box’s rim.  VapoRub gives pet owners more time for loving their critters instead of cleaning up after them!
  • Vicks VapoRub also makes a great air freshener for the car or the home when applied to air vents.
  • superfluous-hair

    VapoRub enjoys killing the hair root, but only for superfluous hairs!

    Balding men (or women) will discover to their delights that a generous application of Vicks VapoRub to their scalps will stimulate the growth of new hair; even those who just want thicker, shinier, fluffier hair will benefit from VapoRub’s enriching stimulation of the blood and skin.  Yet amazingly the application of VapoRub to the face for a week at 30 minutes intervals will remove superfluous hair, killing the root for good, revealing the real, true beauty of the face.  Even the toughest, most wiry hair imaginable cannot stand against the mentholyptic action of VapoRub!  (Warning: Rubbing Vicks VapoRub on eyebrows can cause unforeseeable results!)

  • Vicks VapoRub is a sympathetic listener.  Many people have dumped their therapists in preference to the quiet empathy of their vapory blue jar of VapoRub.
  • 400px-Old_woman_eating_a_mango,_Dhaka

    Shriram’s wife Paridhi, now much prettier!

    VapoRub grants wishes!  An old man in India, Shriram Ramachandran, claims that his jar of VapoRub granted him three wishes.  Sitting in sadness and despair under a withered tree, he rubbed and rubbed away at the jar, and he wished aloud for new shoes, two cows, and a prettier wife.  Ramachandran claims that after nine days of rubbing that jar, his mail carrier brought him an unexpected pair of new shoes, two stout cows arrived at his door in the middle of the night, and his wife did look prettier!

While the previously described cures and remedies are certainly magnificent and beneficial, there does exist yet one more incredible miracle.  An underground society of Vicks VapoRubbers have kept hidden a secret knowledge concerning the unseen wonders of their beloved product.  In fact, my secret VapoRub source has sworn that Lunsford Richardson, the father of Vicks VapoRub, was murdered in 1919 to keep the inventor from sharing the amazing secret with the world.[7]  This source has warned me against speaking of this matter, slowly drawing a line across his throat to depict what could happen to me if I run my gums.  But despite the serious risk, I have decided to expose the secret of VapoRub for the greater benefit of humankind, as the gracious Lunsford Richardson must surely have intended.

Be warned, however, as these secret effects can yield dangerous results!  Vicks warns its customers to avoid applying Vicks inside one’s mouth or nose, or on open cuts, and this is prudent advice!  Keep it out of tight bandages and never heat it!  Always keep water well away from VapoRub; this could cause the unwelcome appearance of any number of disasters!

Now I will tell you this tremendous secret.  When inhaled for five minutes each day, Vicks Vaporub will show gradual but remarkable improvements to memory and other cognitive abilities.  Of this you can be quite sure!  Most of the greatest minds of the twentieth century owe their genius to the providential invention of Vicks VapoRub.  These include such outstanding minds as Pablo Picasso, Mari Curie, Nikola Tesla, and Albert Einstein.  My secret source believes that even those great minds of our present time (precious few though they may be) have developed their brains under the stimulation of those vapory vapors.  I share this knowledge, not with the expectation that the world will produce minds of great genius, but to help those who suffer from deteriorating memory and declining mental facilities.


How do the vapory vapors affect the nervous system?

But I must warn you again!  Do not misuse this powerful product!  I cannot stress this warning enough!  Back in 1978, a man named George Boxley lathered the contents of seven brand new jars of VapoRub over his entire body each and every morning, leaving this coating on himself all day long.  George Boxley wore VapoRub instead of clothes!  After several weeks had passed, this man enjoyed a photographic memory and heightened intelligence, and showed more consideration for the feelings of others.  But the progression continued, and Boxley grew disturbed when he started to hear the thoughts of other people who lived miles away, and when his skin began glowing greenishly in the dark.  His hearing amplified tiny sounds to unbearable loudness, and Boxley’s family would see him sitting on the roof, pillows pressed to his ears as he sobbed over the unbearable loudness of the earthworms slithering under the ground.[8]  Even after he discontinued his use of VapoRub, Boxley’s symptoms continued to accelerate.  He began talking in rapid gibberish, sometimes to dogs, and his eyes darted frantically in his head as his thoughts raced so quickly he could no longer function.  Boxley obsessed over butter, and he would swallow entire sticks one after the other.  Finally one day, his brain and spine burst right out of the top of his head.  Horrified witnesses gasped as Boxley’s exposed nervous system bounded out his front door, grabbed a rolled-up newspaper, and tumbled across his backyard and into a sewer drain, never to be seen again!

So that is the great secret of Vicks VapoRub.  Enjoy this miraculous product, dear readers, but consider yourselves warned!

[1] I also greatly enjoy Werther’s Original candies!

[2] Incidentally, the product in Germany is called ‘Wicks’ because Germans would pronounce ‘Vicks’ as ‘Ficks’, which is a nasty, nasty word in that language.  Ugh!  So nasty.  And Vicks learned this lesson the hard way when they wondered at their lack of sales in that country because of that awful homonym.

[3] Lunsford Richardson really was a very good man.  He developed Vicks in order to better serve the sick, and, according to a 22 August 1919 editorial in the Greensboro Daily News, “he never passed anyone on the street, young or old, black or white, without a nod and a smile”.  Richardson was active in his local Presbyterian Church and his community; and after his death a missionary school, a local hospital for African-Americans, and a Liberty Ship in World War II were given names in his memory.  Wikipedia Contributers. “Lunsford Richardson.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.  Hinds-­Brown, Lindsey. “Lunsford Richardson II.” Richardson II, Lunsford (from Tar Heel Junior Historian)., 6 Mar. 2012. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.

[4] Procter & Gamble. “VapoRub.” Vicks VapoRub Topical Ointment Children’s Cough Medicine. Procter & Gamble, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.

[5] Procter & Gamble. “VapoRub.” Vicks VapoRub Topical Ointment Children’s Cough Medicine. Procter & Gamble, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.

[6] Virginia Commonwealth University. “Onychomycosis (Tinea Unguium).” Onychomycosis. VCU Division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Services, Aug. 2011. Web. 23 Mar. 2013. <;.

[7] Officially Richardson died of the Spanish Flu on 20 August 1919.

[8] The great inventor Nikola Tesla complained of similar experiences.  Chandrasekhar, R (Chandra). “Reflections on the Mind of Nikola Tesla.” Reflections on the Mind of Nikola Tesla. The University of Western Australia, 27 Aug. 2006. Web. 23 Mar. 2013.


6 thoughts on “The Blue Jar of Miracles: Vicks Vaporub

  1. I am absolutely going to try ditching my therapist and buying stock in Vicks. By the way, I think Boxley may still be living in Plymouth Indiana.

  2. I just read this and for the last 3 nights I have applied vicks around eyes, nose etc. I quickly washed it off when I read not to rub it onto eyebrows but some of the hair has come out. Help please what should I do? Luckily I’m blonde anyway. But more are coming out

    • You could do two things. First, you could wait for the benefits that are sure to improve not only your physical appearance but also your mind. Likely you are experiencing some of those benefits at this moment. Or, second, to be on the safe side, you could have yourself looked at by a doctor, either for your physical body or for your mind.

      • Thankyou for that. My brows do look better – like all the fine blonde hair went that was underneath and just a few top ones. And some from thick part of brows. Not as bad as I thought. Lol sorry panic stations set in.

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