Some products we have been using and consuming for as long as we can remember, such as Coca-Cola and Kellogs. But what are the origins of these products? Some are absolutely ridiculous, while others make more sense. All of these, however, will make you wonder how they became household names.


Founded in 1879 by Sir Joseph Lister, this antiseptic product was first formulated in St. Louis, Missouri. While the mouthwash was famously advertised as a cure for halitosis – the medical term for chronic bad breath – it was also advertised as a cure for the sexually transmitted infection, gonorrhea.

Recently, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council found that a ‘good gargle’ of Listerine by someone who has tested positively for the STI can reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to the recipient before engaging in oral sex.

While this is said, additional research is yet to be conducted to determine whether this is actually recommended.


John Harvey Kellogg, the man who created the famous Corn Flakes that form part of many peoples’ daily breakfast routine, came up with the idea for the cereal in the latter part of the 19th century. It was originally marketed as a “healthy, ready-to-eat anti-masturbatory morning meal”.

He was a staunch Seventh-Day Adventist who believed in celibacy, and claimed sex was both immoral and unhealthy.

Kellogg also believed sex was damaging to the mind and body, and never consummated his marriage with his wife. The couple slept in separate bedrooms, and adopted all their children.

“If illicit commerce of the sexes is a heinous sin, self-pollution is a crime doubly abominable,” Kellogg wrote in a book documenting his work.

In his book, Plain Facts for Old and Young: Embracing the Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life, he listed some of the harmful effects of masturbating, and these included mood swings, bad posture, acne, epilepsy, palpitations and a fondness for spicy food.

He also believed that meat and rich flavoured foods increase sexual desire, while bland foods like nuts and cereals suppress it.


A pharmacist by the name of John Pemberton first invented Coca-Cola on 1885.

Pemberton was based in Atlanta, Georgia, and came up with the original formula in his backyard – which contained cocaine and other deadly ingredients such as lead and mercury.

The cocaine found in the drink could be attributed to one of its key ingredients, the coca lead, which inspired the first part of its name. The “cola” part came from the koa nut, which was used to give the drink its caffeine.

At the time of Coca-Cola’s invention, cocaine was legal and a common ingredient in medicines. It was thought safe for consumption in small doses. Pemberton also advertised it as a patent medicine, and claimed it cured headaches, upset stomach, and fatigue. ‘Patent medicines’ were concoctions of exotic ingredients and drug compounds that allegedly were used to cure a wide range of ailments.


Before Viagra was known as the world’s most widely used bedroom aid, it was used as moderately successful anti-angina medication.

After some patients noticed its um… interesting side-effects, the drug picked up in popularity and was marketed as an aid for erectile dysfunction.


Lipstick has become something people across the world wear to accentuate their mouths. Its colours come in a dizzying variety of shades, and there is a type to suit every need – creamy, matte, liquid, metallic, iridescent, the options are endless.

In ancient Greece, however, this cosmetic was first used to identity prostitutes and courtesans from the upper crust, and was used as a brand of dishonour.

The upper class took a liking to how it looked, and adopted it into their own beautification routines so it was no longer known as the identifier of someone who worked in the sex trade.

Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.