Gude’s Pepto-Mangan

Sometime around 1890, in Leipzig Germany, Dr August Gude formulated an iron-manganese preparation that could be used for the treatment of anemia. Unlike similar preparations developed previously, it was easily digestible, palatable and minimized side effects. According to an article in the August 1902 edition of the “Southern Practitioner:”

After laborious attempts, Dr. Gude, chemist, succeeded in producing such an iron-manganese preparation, which is easily absorbed by the entire intestinal tract, evokes no concomitant effects, and, as illustrated in the following histories of cases, has proved an excellent remedy for the formation of blood. The preparation referred to is Pepto-Mangan (Gude). It contains iron and manganese in an organic combination with peptone, and is a clear fluid, resembling dark red wine, of an agreeable, non-metallic, non-astringent taste.

The advantage of this preparation is that it exerts a stimulating effect upon the blood forming organs, these being excited to greater functional activity, and that the favorable effect manifests itself even within a short time by an increased oxygenation of the blood. At the same time…causes no digestive disturbances and does not injure the teeth.

Pepto-Mangan was manufactured in Liebzig by Dr. A Gude & Company and as early as 1892, Max J Breitenbach, a pharmacist by trade, served as Gude’s sole agent in both the United States and Canada.

According to his obituary in the September 11, 1920 edition of the “Drug Trade Weekly,” Breitenbach was born in Albany, Georgia in 1857; came to New York in 1874 and was an 1877 graduate of the New York College of Pharmacy. The obituary goes on to describe Breitenbach’s pharmacy career leading up to his association with Peptone-Mangan.

After working for a time in the drug store kept by Tsheppe & Schur at Sixtieth Street and Third Avenue, Mr. Breitenbach in 1878 took a position in the drug store of Albert Dung at Canal Street and the Bowery. Three years later he was made manager of the store and two years after that, or in 1883, he became the owner. This prospered so that he opened another drug store in Madison Avenue and met with such success in this that he decided to enter the proprietary business and in 1892 he opened an office at 53 Warren Street, which he maintained until his death.

The office on Warren Street was opened primarily, if not exclusively, to facilitate the distribution of Pepto-Mangan in the United States.  Breitenbach was first listed at that location in the 1894 NYC Directory (I don’t have access to 1893) and by 1896 the firm of M. J. Britenbach Co. was also listed at the same location. Around this time Breitenbach was also getting out of the drug store business. The Bowery store was no longer listed in 1894 and the Madison Avenue store, although still called Breitenbach Pharmacy, was listed with a new owner in the 1902 Copartnership and Corporation Directory.

M.J. Breitenbach Co. remained on Warren Street well past Breitenbach’s death in 1920.

This advertisement from the mid to late 1890’s makes it clear that originally Gude’s Peptone-Mangan was imported from Leipzig, Germany.

Another, from the same decade listed Liebzig as the laboratory location.

As far as I can tell, this all changed around 1916 when Breitenbach purchased the entire company, including the Leipzig operation and established a laboratory in New York City. According to an item in the June 1916 edition of “American Medicine,” the company opened their new facility right around that time.

NO SHORTAGE OF PEPTO-MANGAN (GUDE)

It affords us pleasure to call special attention to the advertisement of Pepto-Mangan in this issue.

It will be noted that plentiful supplies of this standard hematinic are again available, after a brief shortage of stock, due to unexpected delays in the fitting up a new and thoroughly modern laboratory for its manufacture in New York City.

Pepto-Mangan (Gude) is now and will continue to be owned, controlled and manufactured in the United States, and will be supplied, exactly the same as heretofore, in unlimited quantities and at the usual price.

Interestingly, they blame their shortage of Pepto-Mangan on construction delays and not on the fact that their laboratory was located in Germany during World War I. In fact, I have to believe that the catalyst for this move to America had a lot to do with World War I; a time when it couldn’t have been good business to sell a German made product in America.  Another story, this one in the October 1918 edition of the “Pharmaceutical Record” spoke of the company’s operation during the war as well as their public relations spin at the time.

After the Germans declared war on the rest of the world, M.J. Breitenbach, who owned the American rights for Gude’s Pepto-Mangan, purchased the entire business in Leibzig, Germany. He installed his own manager there and manufactured there the product intended for use in Germany, its allies, and neutral European countries. Mr. Breitenbach supplies the American market from his laboratory in New York City, which furnishes all the product used in the United States and in the balance of North America and South America and also for the countries of the Allies. The product therefore is entirely American, even that which is made and sold in Germany being American. Of course Mr. Breitenbach has not heard anything about what has happened to his property in Leipzig since America entered the war. Presumably it has been taken over by the alien property custodian and is therefore a complete loss to him. His American laboratory, however, has been going on most successfully, and under the influence of the large sum which he is spending in popular advertising there has been a very rapid growth in the consumption of the product.

It was in the late teens that the company’s approach to advertising also changed, certainly as a result of the sale to Breitenbach. Early on, the company only advertised to the medical practitioner in trade journals and circulars, a course of action that was stipulated in their contract with Dr. A Gude & Co. of Leipzig.

Section 9. And it is further agreed between Dr. A Gude & Co. party of the first part and the M.J. Breitenbach Co. party of the second part, that if at any time the said M.J. Breitenbach Co. by device or by advertising attempt to increase their business in Gude’s Peto-Mangan other than through the recognized channels to the Medical Profession then in such event this contract is to become null and void and all rights of the M.J. Breitenbach Co. existing under this instrument immediately become the property of said Dr. A. Gude & Co. without recourse to law.

In 1917, the company, now owned outright by Breitenbach, launched a national advertising campaign targeting general newspapers across the country. This advertisement, which appeared in the June 11, 1917 edition of the Pittsburgh Press, was part of that first wave of ads that appeared that year.

Based on this advertisement, in the October 1920 edition of the National Druggist, they were still using the trade publications as well, but now they were highlighting their advertising campaign to the druggists with no mention of the uses or benefits of the product itself.

Both liquid and tablet form are now being extensively advertised in the newspapers of this country. Stock both and be prepared for increased trade.

After Breitenbach’s death in 1920, the business continued to be listed at their Warren Street address  up through at least the late 1920’s. By the early 1930’s they were listed at 160 Varick Street and later in the 1940’s and early 1950’s 304 East 23rd Street. Then sometime after the early 1950’s the brand was acquired by the Natcon Chemical Co who was operating out of Bethpage New York on Long Island.

Pepto-Mangan was still being sold in the early 1960’s. The last advertisement I can find for them was in the June 6, 1960 edition of the New York Daily News.

I’ve seen Pepto-Mangan included in advertised drug store price listings as late as 1964.

The bottle I found is machine made, hexagonal in cross-section and contained 11 ounces. It matches the bottle shown in a number of the newspaper advertisements that appeared between 1917 and 1920.