La Crosse Pharmacist Mixed Love Potions In Mid-1800s

Vintage Wisconsin: Pharmacist Devised His Own Remedy For The Heartsick

Wisconsin Historical Images

George Howard was La Crosse’s first pharmacist and likely also the first to peddle love potions in the city. His remedies built on a long tradition. The promise of “love in a bottle” has beguiled humans for centuries.

Howard was born in 1832 in England, the fourth child in a family of 13. After pharmacy school and an apprenticeship he came to the United States with his parents and eight of his siblings in 1850. Howard’s father fell ill on the journey and died soon after they landed in Racine. As the oldest son and the one “with the greater energy,” Howard went to work to help support his family.

Within two years, he formed a partnership to open a general store and pharmacy in La Crosse. Many of the remedies Howard dispensed were of his own concoction. He had remedies for everything from “baking powders to love powders.” He often sent these love potions to “love-sick maids or swains” through the mail.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

His daughter described his potion as based on the plan of “sugar and spice.” Women received “all that’s nice” while the dejected males received “snips and snails.” Howard received many positive responses for his love powder, which to his daughter spoke to the power of faith in “things hoped for.”