A tonic for that tired feeling
U 13.84-7: … those iron jelloids […] had done her a world of good much better than the Widow Welch’s female pills and she was much better of those discharges she used to get and that tired feeling.
U 15.209-10: Bit light in the head. Monthly or effect of the other. Brainfogfag. That tired feeling. Too much for me now.
suggests the phrase "that tired feeling" is based on advertisements
for the Widow Welch's female pills that Gerty used to take, but none of the
frequent advertisements for Kearsley’s Original Widow Welch’s Female Pills
encountered so far carries a reference to “that tired feeling”. Contemporary evidence
suggests that it probably began life as a popular slogan used to advertise a
different product, Hood’s Sarsaparilla.
Hood began to advertise his Sarsaparilla in 1878, but at that time without reference to “that tired feeling”:
The famous slogan itself appears for the first time in a Boston paper in 1882:
A colour image containing a poster ad for Hood’s Sarsaparilla may be found here. The Freeman’s Journal had carried its first ad for the tonic in 1895.
By 1888 the slogan is already the object of a widely copied humorous piece in the “Listener” column of the Boston Transcript about gullible Aunt Huldy Giddings:
Aunt Huldy’s doctor eventually exposes the quack medicine through a “blind study” to which he subjects his patient.
The expression was still common enough in 1908 for the Irish Independent to point out that “patent medicine men make all they can” out of “that tired feeling” (14 April, p. 3). Although it was also used in everyday situations the context of “iron jelloids” and “Widow Welch’s pills” and Bloom’s professional interest as a canvasser strongly suggest an allusion to a health product of the time.
It took “that sinking feeling” of the Bovril advert in the 1920s to oust it from public favour.
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