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One of the best shows of the year, according to Apple, Amazon, and Time, is back for another round.


We had a big bear of a man. He was called Mel Evans. He was on roading. And I was coming back on the plane, and he said, Will you pass the salt and pepper? And I misheard him. I said, What?


Salt and Pepper. Listen to season 2 of McCartney, A Life in Lyricks on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or or wherever you get your podcasts.


Hey, and welcome to the Short Step. I'm Josh, and there's Chuck, and Jerry's here, too. We're all thinking of Dave right now, so his ears are probably burning like flames. Ames on the side of his face.


Or in my throat.


Yeah, Chuck's got a little sore throat, but not really. Would you say you've got some dust in your throat?


You know when you just have a little coughing fit because it feels like there's a tickle in your throat you can't get rid of?


Sure. I always call it- You sound like you're about to cough right now.


I always call it dust in My Throat.


Sure. Yeah, that's a good description. We're going to try to muddle through everybody.


I was going to say a great Tom Waits album, but the joke's dumb, so I'm not going to say it.


Dust in My Throat is great. That was a great joke, man.


This one's fun. You dug this one up. We have talked over the years a lot about snake oil and what's called patent medicines. This is the origin story of snake oil.


Yeah, and it ties into our episode we just released on meat and food before the FDA came along. To quote the Oxford English Dictionary, snake oil is, a quack remedy or panacea. Essentially what they're saying there in high fluten terms is that snake oil is... Well, it's a quack remedy. It doesn't actually work. It's something that's sold as a medicine or a cure that doesn't do anything like it says. And it just has a bad association. We think of snake oil as just something you're duped by, and the person you're duped by is a snake oil salesman. But this is one of those really interesting stories, Chuck, where there's an actual origin to this. And as bad as we think of snake oil today, it actually had a legitimate use back in the day, and still does, depending on where you live. Yeah.


And that's if you're literally talking oil from a snake. We're talking about in China, they would use Chinese water snakes, Venomous Chinese water snakes, to get their literal extract oil from the snake. And that oil is very high in omega-3 fatty acids, which we all know are very good for your health. So the original snake oil in ancient China actually had a use. It wasn't like this bunk medicine. It's good for your brain health, your heart health. I think it can reduce inflammation, like fish oil. Everyone knows that omega-3 fatty acids are great, and that was what the original snake oil was.


It was so high, or it is so high in omega-3 fatty acids that it reduces inflammation if you just rub it on your skin. It's just really potent stuff, which is pretty much the opposite of what we think of as snake oil today. Not only does it not really work, it's fake snake oil. Original snake oil It was not fake. It was very potent. And in the 19th century, there were a lot of Chinese immigrants who came over either by their own volition or as indentured workers to work on the railroad, the transcontinental railroad in particular. And they brought this snake oil with them, and it became a popular curative for people when they wanted to relieve sore muscles or inflammation. And it caught the attention of one guy named Clark Stanley, who became a He was a cowboy. He was a legit cowboy, but he became a patent medicine seller. And you toss that word around patent medicines, but there's an actual explanation to how we got to where patent medicines had this bad reputation. And it's in the That's a good name, too.


Yeah, because you could say, I have this medicine. I want to patent it, so only I can sell it. And part of having a patent can mean that you don't have to tell what's in it. It's proprietary, so you can have your little secret recipe. And so patent medicines, they became these medicines that was essentially snake oil. It's like who knows what could be in this stuff. And these hucksters are selling it for a quarter a bottle, 10 cents a bottle, 50 cents a bottle, as we'll see, which is like 18 bucks today, and no one knows what's in it. So that is where snake oil... Well, actually, we're not quite there yet. That's what patent medicine was. And maybe we should take a break then with that cliffhanger about how snake oil as hucksterism came about.


One of the best shows of the year, according to Apple, Amazon, and Time, is back for another round. We have more insightful conversations between myself, Paul Muldoon, and Paul McCartney, about his life and career.


We had a big bear in the land. It was called Mallettons. It was on road. I was coming back on the plane, and he said, Will you pass the salt and pepper? And I misheard him. I said, What? So I should be.


This season, we're diving deep into some of McCartney's most beloved songs. Yesterday, Band on the Run, Hey Jude, and McCartney's favorite song in his entire catalog, Here, There, and Everywhere. Listen to season 2 of McCartney, A Life and L lyrics on the iHeart radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.


Get ready for our 2024 iHeart Podcast Awards, presented by The Hartford, live at South by Southwest. March 11th, we'll honor the very best in podcasting from the past year and celebrate the most innovative talent and creators in the industry. And you'll to help decide who wins podcast of the Year. Nominees include Crime Junkies, The Daily, My Favorite murder, New Heights, Normal Gossip, On Purpose with Jay Shetty, The Retrievals, Scamanda, Smartless, and Wiser Than Me. Vote now at iheartpodcastawards. Com. Youtube is the streaming partner of the 2024 iHeartPodcast Awards, and we'll be honoring Rotten Mango with the Innovator Award presented by YouTube. Tune in live Monday, March 11th at 9:00 PM Eastern on iHeartRadio's YouTube channel. You won't want to miss this.


If you want to know, then you're in luck. Just listen up to Josh and Chuck. Stuff you should know. Chuck, you left us off on a cliffhanger where we were talking patent medicines were basically fraudulent and fake, and snake oil was about to enter the realm from legitimate medicine to fake patent medicine. It did so via that cowboy boy turned patent medicine seller, Clark Stanley.


Yeah. So he was around and he said, Hey, these Chinese people are using this snake oil or they have stories of using this snake oil because they didn't have those Chinese water snakes in the American West, of course. But he heard these stories. He was into this patent medicine thing, and he said, Well, one thing we have a lot about here is rattlesnakes. Well, we'll get to the little twist here in a second. But I'm going to make a patent medicine, this snake oil linnement out of rattlesnakes. I'm going to say I'm the rattlesnake king. I'm going to put out a little pamphlet to really gussy up my story called The Life and adventures of the American Cowboy: Life in the Far West in 1897. It's going to have horses and cowboy poetry and lasso throwing advice. I'm going to include this with this snake oil. I'm going to charge 50 cents a bottle, which, like I said, was 18 bucks today. It's going to cure almost anything you can think of.


Yeah, he said that it was the strongest and best liniment known for the cure of all pain and lameness for rheumatism, neuralgia, sciatica, lameback, lumbago, contracted muscles, toothache, sprain, swellings, et cetera, cures frost bites, chill blains, bruises, sore throat, bites of animals, insects, and reptiles. That was on the label.


Yeah, it was like the early medical marijuana places in California. They're like, Can't sleep? Try marijuana. Too much sleep? Try marijuana.


If you notice, though, this is like lame back, contracted muscles. He's tying into the reputation that snake oil already has. It's an anti-inflammatory that you rub on your skin, right? Yes. But he never gave credit to the Chinese people who introduced him to snake oil or who introduced him to the United States. He said that he learned to make snake oil from rattlesnakes from years of study with a Hopi medicine man, and It's also because he was bit countless times by rattlesnakes. So I guess that gave him some entree into it. The problem is rattlesnake oil has about a third of the omega-3 fatty acids that oil from Chinese water snakes do, which makes it about a third as potent.


Yeah. And then here's the real twist that we promised. He didn't even use rattlesnake oil. So even if he was using it, it would have been far less potent, but he wasn't even using that stuff. And we know, and this is how it ties into the episode from yesterday, because of the pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, in that episode yesterday, we talked about one of the things they did was a big crackdown on patent medicine. So he was exposed, and they tested his snake oil in 1917, and it had beef fat, red pepper, mineral oil, a little bit of camphore, and a little bit of turpentine.


Yeah, that's it. That was what was in Stanley He's snake oil lintment.


No snake oil.


He got caught red-handed, and he knew he was caught red-handed, this new FDA. I don't even think it was the FDA yet. They busted him. And so for decades of selling fake medicine, He was fined $20, which is less than $500 today, and that was that. But the thing is, is he single-handedly gave snake oil a bad name. It was him. He was the conduit through which snake oil turned legitimate to this umbrella term, this catch-all term, for any fake fraudulent medicine or any time somebody's trying to sell you something that's not real or just hustling you. That's snake oil sold by a snake oil salesman. Our friends at Code Switch seem to have found the first use of snake oil is a catch-all term to deride all patent medicines in that way.


Yeah, it was about 10 years after it was in 1910 years after Clark Stanley was busted. In 1927, a poem by Stephen Vincent Banet called John Brown's Body, which is, I think, fairly famous, right? I've heard of that, haven't I?


That's where we get that John Brown's Body Lies a Moldering in the Graves. Okay. But that's like two lines of this almost book-length epic poem.


Yeah, one of the lines as well was, Sellers of snake oil bomb and lucky rings. Then also in 1956, it was in the very famous play, The Iceman cometh from Eugene O'Neill, right?


Yeah. So one character says that someone else, another character, is, quote, Standing on a street corner in hell right now, making suckers of the damned, telling them there's nothing like snake oil for a bad burn. Amazing. That's classic Eugene O'Neill. So that's it. That's where snake oil came from, or that's where snake oil's bad reputation came from. And you can thank Clark Stanley for it, or blame him if you're a snake oil manufacturer.


Yeah. And I love this because I'm sure we'll talk about snake oil again, and then we can reference Clark Stanley.


Yeah, for sure, Chuck. And since I said for sure, everybody, I don't think either of us have anything more about snake oil. Short stuff is that.


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