This is part of an image of Heather’s Handy Store, a Dunbar-based convenience shop. I enjoy scanning the products on shelves of old photographs like this one, seeing what items our grandparents and their neighbours were tempted to purchase.
There are several familiar products shown above: various items produced by Kraft (including the ‘processed cheese food’ known as Cheez Whiz); Vick’s Vaporub, Aspirin, and Ex-Lax. There are also some brands/products that are unknown to me, such as Good Luck Margarine.
And then there is Noxall Moucide which, boasts the packaging, ‘Kills Mice’ (it is on the second shelf from the top, almost ‘dead’ centre).
I recently viewed a fascinating (though disturbing) documentary program on BC’s Knowledge Network called Hidden Killers. The program points out how household products in Victorian and Edwardian England led to a great many serious injuries and deaths and how, due to a lack of political will and regulation, many of the products continued to be readily available for several decades afterwards.
It turns out that the rodent-killing agent in Moucide was strychnine. And strychnine will polish off a man every bit as efficiently as a mouse. Dying from strychnine is an especially nasty way to go. And there is no antidote.
The thing that most creeps me out about the image above is not so much that Noxall produced Moucide nor that convenience stores carried it. It is the positioning of the poisonous product just inches away from the Nabob spices. And is that a stack of chocolate bars I see adjacent to the Moucide?
The more sweeping and even more disturbing question is: What ‘hidden killers’ are lurking in our pantries and elsewhere in our homes today?