For sale is an early 1900s EXLAX FREE SAMPLE SIZE BOX from the Ex-Lax Manufacturing Company, Brooklyn, NY. The top of the box reads: “EX-LAX – The chocolated laxative is widely used with good results in cases of occasional constipation”. These cardboard boxes are much less common than the Ex-Lax tins from the same time period for obvious reasons. In 1906, Israel Matz founded the Ex-Lax company. This sample box is from the early days of this iconic product. A top notch apothecary collectible.
Ex-Lax has been a mainstay in the industry, famous particularly for its chocolate-covered version found in many medicine chests and a number of fraternity-house pranks. But the origins of its active ingredient, phenolphthalein, are unclear. One theory is that its laxative qualities were discovered accidentally in 1902 by Hungarians considering using it as an additive for wines. Ex-Lax began selling its product in 1906, the same year the FDA’s predecessor agency, the Bureau of Chemistry, was created. The regimen for evaluating drugs was far different than it is today; medications simply had to meet certain standards for strength and purity. One thing is clear: Americans place great emphasis — too much, many doctors say — on regularity. Consumers in the U.S. spend at least $600 million a year on laxatives.