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Tar in a jar

(179 Posts)
vampirequeen Mon 30-Jan-23 09:35:01

DH and I were discussing the weird and wonderful treatments we were given as children. We remember cod liver oil (foul even when mixed with orange juice), Linctus, Beecham's Powders, my grandma gave me a drag of her cigarette if I had a cough to 'clear my chest', bicarbonate of soda, kaolin and morphine, warm lemonade when we'd vomited, and tar in a jar.

We've wracked our brains as to what tar in a jar really was. It was foul tasting and was, maybe, some type of tonic. We think it was some sort of malt mixture but aren't sure.

Does anyone remember it and/or know what it was?

ExperiencedNotOld Mon 30-Jan-23 09:37:17

Cod liver oil and malt? My mother still talks about loving this, the strange woman!

merlotgran Mon 30-Jan-23 09:39:26

Yes. Malt. It was disgusting!

Poppyred Mon 30-Jan-23 09:40:42

It was called VIROL, loved it!

kircubbin2000 Mon 30-Jan-23 09:41:14

The one I got had raw egg, malt and some sort of emulsion and orange. sherry may have been given too.

Grandma70s Mon 30-Jan-23 09:44:41

I loved malt and cod liver oil, too. There was also Scott’s Emulsion, cod liver oil in a different guise. Milk of Magnesia. Various ‘tonics’, which I think contained iron.

vampirequeen Mon 30-Jan-23 09:45:13

We don't think it was Virol because it wasn't sweet. We think it was more to do with malt. We had it separate to our cold liver oil and orange juice.

Thinking back winter mornings were a nightmare. Spoonfuls of foul tasting concoctions hmm

Nannytopsy Mon 30-Jan-23 09:46:09

Cod liver oil and malt - yum!

CatsCatsCats Mon 30-Jan-23 09:47:54

I loved Virol too. Perhaps this is a different thing. I have a big jar of extract of malt in my cupboard - my daughter and I have a big spoonful every now and then - it is on the sweet side and tastes lovely.

Blondiescot Mon 30-Jan-23 09:49:54

Another one who loved Virol here too!

Juliet27 Mon 30-Jan-23 09:51:23

Yes, I'm another who loved Virol! There was Virolax too if I remember right.
Dr Collis Brown for upset tums.

BlueBelle Mon 30-Jan-23 09:51:56

I absolutely loved the malt stuff … Virol I really licked my lips for that one
cod liver all was awful
my Nan gave me a thimbleful of neat whiskey to rub on toothache
Salt folded in a handkerchief warmed by the fire and put on the ear for earache
Vicks went everywhere nose, chest, cheeks, in front of ear

henetha Mon 30-Jan-23 09:52:17

I loved cod-liver oil and malt and was given a large spoonful every morning. It was like dark sticky toffee/treacle and tasted great.

Sparklefizz Mon 30-Jan-23 09:52:37

I loved Virol too.
And anyone remember that foul lime green mixture called Minadex? Yuk.

maddyone Mon 30-Jan-23 09:55:58

I absolutely loved Virol, but hated Cod Liver Oil, not surprising when you think what it was. I loved my daily spoonful of Delrosa though.

MiniMoon Mon 30-Jan-23 09:56:45

I loved Virol too. My sisters and I formed an orderly queue at the pantry door and my mother dispensed tablespoons of it in the winter to ward off coughs and colds.
I liked Jeyes linctus (sp) too, this was mixed with hot water and given in a little cup to sip.

maddyone Mon 30-Jan-23 09:58:14

When I was ill, my mother always bought me Lucozade.

MiniMoon Mon 30-Jan-23 09:58:37

Yes Sparklefizz, Minadex was nasty stuff. 🤢

Greyduster Mon 30-Jan-23 09:59:57

I loved malt and cod liver oil and also Scott’s Emulsion (I was a strange child!). I gave Minadex to my children but they preferred Haliborange liquid.

Grantanow Mon 30-Jan-23 10:00:37

Many years ago, wracked with abdominal pain, I was carted off to A&E where I was swiftly examined for suspected appendicitis. The doctor in charge ordered kaolin and morphine which solved the problem after a short space of time. The problem may have been a bad mushroom in a sauce. I have occasionally used K&M since so I don't regard it as a foible of past times. Cod liver oil was one of the post-war provisions (like orange juice) to support childhood development. I agree it tasted awful. One family member still takes it every day and says the version available in France has had the bad taste removed to make it more palatable.

Aveline Mon 30-Jan-23 10:00:41

My mum used to talk about stuff called 'Radio Malt'.

Greyduster Mon 30-Jan-23 10:01:50

I remember when the road menders were working locally, people used to take their children to inhale the fumes from the tar burner if they had a chest complaint.

Squiffy Mon 30-Jan-23 10:03:44

Was anyone else given Parrish’s Food? It was a liquid tonic and not too bad to take. There were rumours that it contained arsenic, but I have read that this wasn’t true. I hope it wasn’t true, I was given it regularly for years! 😱

Sparklefizz Mon 30-Jan-23 10:05:51


I remember when the road menders were working locally, people used to take their children to inhale the fumes from the tar burner if they had a chest complaint.

After I was very ill with Whooping Cough, aged 6, I had a Wright's Coaltar Burner burning in my bedroom every night until I left home to get married!

Not sure if it worked, but years later when I was diagnosed with Asthma, the doctor told me I had actually been diagnosed with it aged 6! Of course there were no inhalers in the 1950s whereas now I use them every day.

JackyB Mon 30-Jan-23 10:06:35

I never had any of these. My mother never mentioned them. I'm not sure she even had any when she was a child - she doesn't mention them in her memoir. The only old-fashioned treatment she would use was the blue-bag for wasp stings (or was it bee stings?)

We had herbs in the garden but they were used for cooking only (thyme, parsley, mint). If we were poorly we might have had Lucozade.

In Germany they had cod liver oil and various herbal infusions for stomach and throat troubles. To bring a feverish temperature down the treatment was "Wadenwickel" - a cold towel wrapped around the calves. I never did that, it sounded messy to me. Did what I had learned in the Junior Red Cross - a cool sponge on the temples.

And when we were children in the 60s, healthy eating was unheard of - at least not like it is today. However we always had plenty of vegetables fresh from the garden and apart from chicken pox and measles, were never really ill.