Questionable Ingredients

The first half of the 20th century was a time when popular consensus postulated that modern science could solve the world’s problems and improve living conditions for all. This was before it was found by medical researchers that many of the substances used to execute these solutions caused more harm than good. From asbestos to lead paint, we spent the second half of the 20th century purging our built environment from these now vilified materials.

These images from the Davis Hillmer Collection show some mystifying window displays at the Hudson’s department store, the likes of which you would never see while shopping today. – D.S.

In 1948 it must have seemed like a brilliant idea to lace the wallpaper of children’s’ bedrooms with the toxic pesticide DDT in an effort to “Protect Your Child from Flies, Mosquitoes and Other Household Insects”. This is made all the more ironic by the strategic use of popular animated characters.

This irradiated beauty cream from the 1920s claimed to possess sunlight, apparently before customers were aware that overexposure to the sun causes wrinkles and skin cancer.

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