In 1847, Henry Thayer M.D., opened a laboratory
on Main Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts to produce his newly developed
line of herbal extracts for sale to the medical profession. Born in
1828, into one of Massachusetts' founding families, he was trained
in the medical arts of his day by his physician father. His method
produced, for the first time, standardized strengths, enabling physicians
to regulate dosages accurately. The company, named Henry Thayer &
Company, prospered and broadened its line of products and has been
described as the largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals in America
at the time of the Civil War.
In 1875, the company published "Descriptive Catalogue of Fluid
and Solid Extracts in Vacuo" listing over 800 of its products:
herbal based, presented in the forms of tinctures, infusions, syrups,
poultices and wines. Prominent among these products was a Fluid Extract
of Witch Hazel, listed as a "Tonic, astringent, and sedative;
useful in checking hemorrhages and excessive discharges." The
final pages show sugar-coated pills, a physician's dose list, apothecary's
tables, a diet for invalids, and some diagnosis-related formulas including
numerous combinations for cough remedies, a "Lotion for Humors
and Eruptions", "Hair Restorative", and "Effervescent
Lemonade Without a Machine."
After Dr. Thayer died in 1902, ownership of the business passed to
his great niece, Mrs. Joseph Sturdevant. The nature of the business
changed from emphasis on extracts of herbs to the preparation and
sale of compound formulas marketed to the public through drug stores
as "patent" medicines. Included were a line of 9 children's
remedies, marketed under the brand name "Tots", a pile ointment,
and a line of lozenges, including Slippery Elm Lozenges.
In 1947, Chase, Storrow Co. of Boston, a partnership of former Harvard
roommates and recent Navy veterans, bought the company from Mrs. Joseph
Sturdevant. A vigorous program of sales and advertising was begun
based on a strategy of first increasing sales in New England, to be
followed by expansion west of the Hudson River. The next decade saw
distribution of the lozenges in the U.S. and Canada in independent
drug stores and natural product stores, and the addition of related
items, Cough Syrup, Nose Drops, Cold Sore Balm, and Coughmasters™.
In 1989, the decision was made to add a line of Witch Hazel products
for sale in the health food trade, with the addition of Aloe Vera
to not only soothe and clean skin but soften as well.
In 1999 the company was sold to Karen Clarke, who for five years had
served as General Manager. The Thayers family-business tradition was carried
forward yet again in 2003, when Karen's son, John Gehr, came aboard as
Vice President of Sales & Marketing and Business Development.
A longstanding commitment to making effective, natural remedies with
high-quality ingredients has ensured Thayers' longevity. Its owners are
confident that with this unwavering dedication, the company will
flourish throughout the 21st Century.