Advertising names that speak to you: 1 - Bacilikil

U 17.589-95: Look at this long candle. Calculate when it burns out and you receive gratis 1 pair of our special non-compo boots, guaranteed 1 candle power. Address: Barclay and Cook, 18 Talbot street.

Bacilikil (Insect Powder).

Veribest (Boot Blacking).

Uwantit (Combined pocket twoblade penknife with corkscrew, nailfile and pipecleaner).

Bloom shares his advertising with Stephen by listing a few products whose ads do not impress him. The first of these advertisers (Barclay and Cook) was a real firm. The first of this could-do-better list was “Bacilikil (Insect Powder)”. Gifford notes this product as “Unknown”. Joyce added the sequence of three product names to the typescript of the Ithaca episode in late 1921, as he was completing Ulysses.

In fact, “Bacilikil” was widely advertised in Ireland, not as an “insect powder” but as the “Irish made disinfectant” (a more likely function for a killer of bacillus spores and germs generally) from 1921 to 1923. The Freeman’s Journal for 23 May, 1921, advertises it:

BACILIKIL, Irish-made disinfectant, destroys disease germs instantly, and cleans and disinfects everything. In bottles of chemists everywhere. Irish Disinfectant, Ltd., Waterford Street, Dublin.

Later that year the Freeman’s recorded that “The Horse Show premises were disinfected during the week by Irish Disinfectants, Ltd., of 23 Waterford Street, Dublin” (3 August):

Their Bacilikil No. 1 is strongly recommended for public buildings, hospitals, dispensaries, household baths, and lavatories. Bacilikil No. 2 is a coal tar preparation, and is recommended for use in stables, drains, household lavatories, etc.

The Irish Independent shows the bottles that could be bought at any chemist (15 March, Advertisement section p. 10):

It seems that the name was not an Irish invention. Ten years earlier the American newspapers were advertising a fly spray (closer to an insect powder) of the same name:

Swat the Fly… Better still, prevent the fly propagation. "Bacili-Kill" (B-K) will do the work effectively by spraying their feeding (breeding) places with a dilution that will cost only 15 to 20 cents per barrel.

Omaha Daily Bee (1914) 17 May

But by 1917 “Bacili-Kil” or “B-K” was a disinfectant:

Pure Drinking Water for You and Your Family

May be obtained economically through the use of

B-K "Bacili-Kil"

Household Disinfectant

Honolulu Star-Bulletin (1917), 30 October p. 2

and several years later the name found its way over to Dublin.

Eamonn Finn

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