The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
 
Mule elected G.O.P. committeeman, 1938
Script of Casablanca rejected, 1982
Taco Bells buys the Liberty Bell, 1996
The Instant Color TV Hoax, 1962
The boy with the golden tooth, 1593
Baby Yoga, aka Swinging Your Kid Around Your Head
Iceberg floats into Sydney Harbor, 1978
Swiss peasants harvest spaghetti from trees, 1957
The Berners Street Hoax, 1810
The Great Electric Sugar Swindle, 1884
The Case of the Carbolic Smoke Ball
Clive Coleman tells the story for BBC Radio 4 of the Carbolic Smoke Ball Company. It was an 1892 case of fraudulent advertising. The case against them is "seen by some as the birth of modern consumer protection":

The carbolic smoke ball was a peculiar device marketed as a cure for various ailments including influenza. It consisted of a rubber ball, filled with powdered carbolic acid. You squeezed the ball sending a puff of acidic smoke right up a tube inserted into your nose. The idea was that your nose would run and the cold would be flushed out.
The company making the ball advertised it in the Pall Mall Gazette offering a £100 reward to anyone using it correctly who then contracted influenza. They deposited £1,000 in the Alliance Bank in Regent Street to show the money was there.
Categories: Advertising, Health/Medicine
Posted by The Curator on Fri Nov 06, 2009
Comments (3)
I'm in law school, and this case is actually in my Contracts textbook. They also have the Leonard v. PepsiCo case, which I'm sure you know.
Posted by ostrakos  on  Fri Nov 06, 2009  at  04:39 PM
I'm happy to hear that it's still in Contracts. There is considerable time devoted to the case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbolic_Smoke_Ball) by Professor Kingsfield in the movie _The Paper Chase_ (and also the novella and TV series). The other major case is that of the "hairy hand" (Hawkins v. McGee) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawkins_v._McGee).

I highly recommend the novella _The Paper Chase_ to anyone about to enter grad school or law school. It's quite motivating and gets one's perspective in the right place. The movie, however, is generally depressing, but still worth watching. And on the flip side, the TV series is too joyful.
Posted by Taed  on  Sat Nov 07, 2009  at  08:02 AM
Tracing back fraudulent advertising has to be a investigation that never ends, going all the way back to the beginning of commerce.
Posted by Steve  on  Thu Nov 19, 2009  at  09:22 AM
Commenting is no longer available for this post.
All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.