Musterole: Near Death

Childhood Trauma

When I was a young child, I frequently got terrible sore throats, chest colds, and sinus infections. I took enough antibiotics to kill every germ east of the Mississippi. One of the old-timers’ remedies of choice that was always said to be  “good for what ails ya” was this horrific suave called Musterole.

MusteroleThe Musterole packaging reads: “America’s Favorite since 1905. Made in the USA. Exceptional for coughs, congestion, and muscle aches.”

Oh my god! I can not overstate how awful it smelled. It was greasy and slimy. My parents would rub it on my chest and neck and then wrap me in a towel which they baby-pinned tight against me to keep the gross stuff off of the pillow and bed linens.

To be honest, I would rather have just died than had them rub Musterole on me. It was immediately hot—so hot it all but burned. The smell was overcoming, causing my little eyes to water. Truly, using Musterole was one of the most horrific experiences of my otherwise unremarkable childhood.

But, miraculously, the next morning, that greasy mess all over everything, I was always astonishingly better—almost completely well. Whatever it was, it worked.

Fortunately, the vile goo became increasingly difficult to find until; thank all that is holy; eventually, it could be found nowhere at all. I always assumed that the scientific community had discovered it caused cancer and had quietly removed it from market.

Adulthood Trauma

Well, 2 weeks ago I came down with a horrible head and chest cold. I hate not being able to breathe. Oh goodness, I even thought, “This is so bad I would try that hideous Musterole stuff to get better.” I looked for it online, and much to my horror, I found it!

I couldn’t back away now.

Apparently the company, started in 1905, was bought out a time or two, but the product is still available. Retrobrands, USA, LLC, began manufacturing Musterole again in 2014. I ordered some. The active ingredients give a hint as to the horrid smell:

  • Soybean Oil
  • Beeswax
  • Mustard Seed Oil
  • Camphor
  • Menthol
  • and Methyl Salicylate

Apparently mustard seed oil is an anti-inflammatory. I had no idea.

Well, it arrived today, now that I’m almost completely well. Even when the packages were sealed and the product was sitting unopened on the counter, several accusations were made by both Steve and I. Vociferous denials followed. Ultimately Waldo was blamed. Only later did I come to realize that the delicate hint of unspeakable stench was the Musterole scent leaking out of its container.

I’m glad I was well enough not to try the product by the time it arrived! Hopefully, I’ll never get sick again!