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LEARNING DAY

Learning Day: Captain Hadacol 🌭

Look, in the sky! It’s a weak child! It’s a lack of appetite! It’s trouble focusing on schoolwork, NO! It’s Captain Hadacol! Captain Hadacol was the official superhero of anemic kids back when we diagnosed most childhood diseases as “god just couldn’t wait to see his favorite angel again.” There was even a promotional comic where Captain Hadacol saved dipshit children from their own hubris, and it was all in support of Hadacol: A supplement drink which treated the symptoms of any illness just long enough for a Hadocol salesman to cross state lines. It was mostly Vitamin B and iron and that’s fine, I take a multivitamin every day that does the exact same thing: Nothing.

Hadacol itself was for everybody and every symptom, but Captain Hadocol was only for the kids. This was the early 1950s, corporations didn’t have to do that “we never marketed it to children” shit. Giant screaming heads would call your child a pansy across a full page comic book spread and the FDA called that practice “medically awesome.”

“Is your kid a picky eater? Hadacol! Does your child suffer from doctor diagnosed Punyism? Hadacol! Trouble in school? Maybe they should buckle down… and finish their Hadacol!” It was the only thing holding Darwinism at bay for an entire post-war generation of wienees.

In his thigh high boots and collared shirt with his rosy cheeks, Captain Hadacol looked like 1951’s Most Bashful Prostitute. He could only be found around children making mistakes. I’d say he’s a walking red flag but he’s mostly blue. In this issue his secret identity is going on an adventure with the Reddie children as their adult best friend and travel companion, a phrase we recognize today as the tragic opening lines of a police report.

After a day of new experiences we shall not discuss, the Reddie children sit around a campfire with Cowboy Ed of Ed’s Dude Ranch. He tells them tall tales about Wild West legends-

And then notices someone else is listening to his whimsical little story.

HADACOL QUIZ: What do you think Cowboy Ed does about these shy eavesdroppers? Drink your Hadacol and you’re sure to come to the right answer! Does Cowboy Ed…

  1. Invite them to sit by the fire.
  2. Speak louder so they can hear.
  3. Work a timid character into the story so they know it’s alright.
  4. Fire his pistols wildly into the dark, hoping for murder.

Send in two Hadacol box tops for the answer!

“Goldarnit,” Cowboy Ed huffs. “These here tales of fanciful adventure ain’t for yer ears, cowpokes! When you meet Jesus you tell ‘im MMRRFF on account of I shot out yer teeth!”

To counter prospective whimsy thieves, Cowboy Ed hides the map while loudly announcing its location. Then he strangles everyone within earshot with his little neckerchief, as Cowboy Code demands.

Luckily John Wright, adult friend to unattended children, is a light sleeper.

He wakes up just in time to take a Grade 4 Conk. Doctors qualify a Grade 4 Conk as any conk which robs you of your fourth grade education. Here’s how John reacts to a surprise night conking:

He immediately leaves that night-shirted old man to fend for himself while he grumpily grabs a 1950s hangover cure. Just one shot of that Hadacol gives John Wright the unearned confidence of a heterosexual white man in 1951!

There’s a joke to be made about an inadequate man facing some kind of adversity, retreating to a bottle until he thinks he’s a superhero, then coming back and getting suddenly violent.

And yet, I’m not making that joke. Hmm.

Anyway, those no good story-hearin’ bandits got away with the map.

Time for another HADACOL QUIZ: How do you think Captain Hadacol and the Reddie family react to this news? Knock back some Hadacol for quick Quiz Confidence! Do they…

  1. Start blasting.
  2. Contact some kind of super-dog with a racist name.
  3. Fucking quit because this shit is hard.
  4. Drink more Hadacol, the only medical tonic that cures burglary in children!

You assumed this was an “all of the above” joke. No. They just quit. This sucks, and they’re on vacation. “They stole a pretend map based on a campfire story,” Cowboy Ed says, “there’s nothing even on it. I used it to practice drawing titties because this is 1951 and it is crazy hard to masturbate.”

But the Reddie children are not so easily discouraged, and set out after the bandits alone. Their parents don’t notice, because this was 1951 and we kind of let nature figure out which kids would “take.”

Oh but don’t worry – mysterious friend to unattended boys, John Wright, has been watching the children from a bush! I said don’t! Don’t worry about that! Keep not worrying when he decides to shoot some Hadacol and dress up pretty!

The treasure map turns out to be real, and bandits corner these idiot children in a mine because the Reddies’ plan, if they actually found the thieves, was “…”

But what’s this? Captain Hadacol is here!

To make everything catastrophically worse!

He misjudges an impulsive punch and accidentally caves in the whole mine, damning everybody.

There’s another joke to be made about this scenario. Something about an inadequate man hitting the bottle until he thinks he’s the hero of the office Christmas party, then taking a swing at Santa Claus, knocking the Christmas tree into a water cooler, and burning down the annex.

I’m still not making that joke. That’s weird.

You know what this situation, caused by Hadacol consumption, needs? More Hadacol!

I have done this exact thing: Took a shot, ruined everything, decided the solution was another shot, and then spun headlong into a mountain attempting to drill an escape passage.

All I got was an interesting scar on my forehead and an absence in my brain where cursive used to be, but Captain Hadacol gets those kids out safe from this disaster he alone caused.

Hey, this is accidentally the place where the legendary treasure is hidden! It’s such a hasty ending and wasn’t earned by a single character in any way. The last panel is the entire crew mutely grabbing treasure.

I don’t know why that cracks me up. Maybe it’s because that’s the exact posture of me and all my extremely stoned High School friends gathered around a Taco Bell bag.

Captain Hadacol didn’t have to be a good comic book, it was just an excuse for page after page of insane lies about vitamin supplements kids should repeat to their parents.

Hadacol wouldn’t merely help you get stronger like other snake oil comic book scams – all of these children were dying from Hadacol deficiency and just didn’t know it yet.

When the doctor pulls his stethoscope away, shakes his head, and says “there’s nothing I can do; your child just sucks.” Hadacol can help!

Hadacol rules! Hadacol! Let’s join the Captain Hadacol Club!

All the coolest kids are in medicinal fan clubs! Kenny loves Camphor! Look at Billy in his Octaplex shirt! Little Suzy saved up her Efemist points and bought a pony! They shipped her a live pony! It can only say “Efemist is an EfeMUST” but it’s fucking crazy a pony can say anything!

It’s insane to expect a child to be enthusiastic about medicine, but you guessed this twist long ago: Hadacol was 12 percent alcohol.

That’s already a strong wine to give a 7 year old, but it also contained hydrochloric acid which, in small doses, delivers alcohol through the body much faster. In large doses it melts you. The bottle says you should only take 1 once in a glass of water four times a day, which is a third grader’s equivalent to butt-chugging a pint of Mad Dog. But look back at those child testimonials: They’re measuring doses of Hadacol in bottles. One of those girls is five years old and she’s slamming two Four Lokos a day. Hell yeah her attitude is better, she’s completely fucking blitzed.

The tone of this whole comic changes, now that you know John Wright, watcher of lonely children, is just pounding a few nips, dressing up funny, and attacking wildly.

Hadacol wasn’t only marketed to children. Adult testimonials swore it could do everything from teach you how to read to make you more attractive. It was a prohibition workaround in dry counties, and sold by the shot in “pharmacies.” So everybody had to be a little coy about it, but even at the time we knew this was just liquor. And we still funneled it into any kid who wouldn’t eat their vegetables.

Hadacol was invented by Dudley LeBlanc – a Louisiana state Senator, which we all know is a party senate. He had no background in medicine or pharmaceuticals, what he did have was “a barrel behind a shed.” His words! He poured vitamins into alcohol, stirred it with a paddle, then drank 14 bottles of it and didn’t die. That was enough testing for him, and apparently America. Now is a fine time to mention his last company, Happy Day Headache Powders and Cough Syrup, was seized by the FDA. Guess why!

That’s enough setup. This is the reveal stage, where I tell you how it all went horrifically wrong.

It didn’t!

Hadacol swept the entire country in the early 1950s, and everybody loved it. “Hadacol Boogie” was a radio hit, “What Put the Pep in Grandma” wasn’t far behind. LeBlanc started a roving Hadacol fair that toured the country. They adapted a liquor into a circus!

See that fine print? You could win a pony!

Wait, no, the other fine print: Coloreds have a separate section!

Shit, no, the other fine print: Cesar Romero, Minnie Pearl, and Hank Fucking Williams headlined this drunken child carnival.

It wasn’t a fluke appearance before they were famous. Milton Berle, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope – the biggest celebrities in the entire world performed at the Hadacol Caravan Show. It drew crowds in the tens of thousands, their worst problem was finding places large enough to contain it. And the only way to get in? Hadacol box tops. 2 for adults, 1 for kids.

They sold Hadacol outside if you came up short, so that’s two shots for daddy and one for junior before heading inside to tear it up with the Joker and Hillbilly Shakespeare.

In 1951 alone, Hadacol sales were nearly 4 million dollars. And yet LeBlanc sold the entire company that year for 8.2 million. Adjusting for inflation, that’s everything. Every dollar in the world. Just a ridiculous fortune.

After a few weeks of accounting, by which I mean digging through child-vomit stained box tops, the new owners discovered why he was so eager to sell: LeBlanc spent more advertising Hadacol than it ever sold. The entire thing was a scam on every level, scams working within scams – a scam medicine to run a prohibition grift, a farce festival for a conman company. And LeBlanc walked away with millions. Somebody had the audacity to ask him if he regretted anything, and LeBlanc said “the man who buys a horse has only himself to blame if the horse keels over and dies.”

Incredible. It was a classier time, when you had to use more words to communicate certain delicate sentiments, and that’s such a poetic way to say “haha, eat shit.”

But LeBlanc needed that money. His only dream was to leave a lasting political legacy, and he wanted to be governor of Louisiana. He ran twice, the second time in 1952 using the profits from Hadacol, but some silly negative press about this whole drunken child fraud carnival cost him that election.

Don’t feel too bad for him. LeBlanc had already secured his legacy, even if he didn’t fully appreciate it yet. His first gubernatorial campaign was in 1932, where he pledged to create a monthly stipend for senior citizens if elected. Huey Long, LeBlanc’s opponent in that election, would later steal that idea (total party senate) and Franklin D. Roosevelt stole the idea again (total party country) and actually put it into effect when he became president.

It’s the modern social security system. And it was invented by a traveling grifter who ran an alcohol circus for children.


This article is thanks to a hot Hot Dog Tip from Johnny Unusual.

11 replies on “Learning Day: Captain Hadacol 🌭”

Knowing now that Hank WIlliams headlined Hadicol carnivals, it makes a lot more sense that he died at 29.

In Canada we had Commissar Over-the-Counter Codeine, who got pulled because all of his comics were him talking about how slowly he can breathe and then passing out. Then Enabler Al (an unthinkably racist portrayal of Métis stereotypes) would pop in for the last panel, flipping his boss onto his side as he winked and told the readers, “Don’t you always wish you could sleep forever?”

Where I grew up we just had THE MIXTURE SHAKE THE BOTTLE which I think was just Bailey’s laced with paracetamol. Made me stop whingeing though.

Until this comic, Hadacol’s second most dedicated pitchman had been Mickey Rooney, who, unlike those other, more in-demand celebrities, toured all over the southern U.S. with the Caravan because he’d reached rock bottom at 30 and this was the best gig he could find. So, in terms of being fiscally solvent and appearing in zero movies with minstrel shows, a shitty cartoon superhero mascot was technically preferable to Hollywood’s former biggest child star.

This is the kind of life, legacy, and cultural footprint that NFT scammers dreamed of, and yet not a one of them had an ounce of the moxie to manage it. We can only salute the pasts incredible flim flam men, and their contributions to society (drunk children, social security???)

There is so much to unpack in this article! Brockway, you’re a genius! Although I kept getting distracted by how much Captain Hadacol looks like a grown-up Pip Boy.

So, this is what Vitameatavegamin was based off of? I figured it was a parody of a real product, but it’s certainly not coincidence that Lucy was involved in promoting it.

I drink ten bottles of hadacol every morning, then ten for brunch and so on… It’s truly a miracle cure all. I still don’t know where I lost the middle part of my dick but it’s worth it for the vitality and stamina!

Oh, Brockway. “Hahaha BOOSH! I’m Captain Fuck You!” is my new battle cry.

I recently discovered that my storage shed in Lafayette, La was broken into and had a bunch of stuff stolen out of there. Regrettably, this happened in February and the company hadn’t noticed or just didn’t alert me to this.

I had a very good conditioned captain hadacol comic book in there. Don Dorsey, my grandfather, was the world’s foremost collector in the subject. If any one has seen a copy come up for sale in the last months I would like to know. I am still going through my stuff desperately hoping that I took it out of the storage shed the last time I was in there, but no luck as of yet. Email me at mlabor7@gmail.com if you here something. Thanks.

Edit: You can keep the comic, they just took some other stuff that is pretty important to me.

They also took around 20 bottles of hadacol, not only in the original box and all that, but in the original hadacol carton packaging. Bleh, I’m still pretty roughed up about it.

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