In 1920, a man named F. Donald Costa and his partner Joseph Brandino established a pharmaceutical company called the Adelphi Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company. Their main product was a miraculous solution called “Dandrafuge,” which could stop dandruff in its tracks and grow hair on a rock. The company also made other tonics and cosmetic products.
Costa and Brandino were establishing their company at the dawn of the Roaring Twenties, that mythical time of ragtime, flappers and Prohibition. After January 1, 1920, thanks to the 18th Amendment, all forms of alcohol were now illegal. Because many tonics and medicines required some form of alcohol in their recipes or production, manufacturers had to obtain a permit from the government that allowed them to legally purchase alcohol. Adelphi had a permit that allowed them to buy 5,000 gallons of alcohol a month. They bought and used every drop.
Bottles of Dandrafuge were rolling off the assembly lines, and were selling like hotcakes, but not to those with follicle issues. Dandrafuge was incredibly popular to bootleggers. They bought up entire shipments, distilled the alcohol out of it, and made bootleg liquor and beer. This was not an unexpected by product of manufacturing, Costa and Brandino knew exactly what they were doing. (more…)