Friday, March 27, 2020

Mark Twain, Fannie & Fred, and Hasheesh Candy in Old San Francisco

RICHARDS & CO., a San Francisco pharmacy that advertised Hasheesh Candy in 1872, was on the corner of Sansome & Clay streets on the outskirts of Chinatown, near the financial district and (today) the Transamerica Pyramid and Mark Twain Plaza. Clay was the street on which Twain was spotted after having ingested hashish in 1865. It's possible he procured his hasheesh from Richards & Co.

CF Richards & Co., wholesale drugs and chemicals, was defended by Twain for misinterpreting a prescription in 1864. It is depicted in William Hahn’s 1872 painting "Market Scene, Sansome Street, SF" (below), the first major painting of a contemporary California subject. It hangs at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento.

An interesting little advertising/PR campaign (or so it seems) appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in 1872. It began on September 19, with this item touting the medical uses of “magic” hasheesh conserves:

MAGIC CONSERVES – Debilitated, Hypochondriac Sufferer, physically and mentally in need of an invigorator, pleasant and harmless, use this Hasheesh Confection. For sale at RICHARDS’ corner Clay and Sansome. Price, #1 per box. Send for circular, P. O. Box 1733.

The following day, recreational use was included in this ad:

MAGIC CONSERVES – All who are afflicted use Hasheesh Confection and find relief. Those who seek for novelty use it for its exhilarating effects. Price $1 per box. Send for unique circular, P. O. Box 1733 or RICHARDS & CO., Druggists. For sale by druggists generally. 

One month later, on October 20, this item appeared just over the Church Notices:

ALL who have used the MAGIC CONSERVES (Hasheesh) speak of it in the most glowing terms. Two days later, another ad previewed a coming article: TRY THE MAGIC CONSERVES (HASHEESH), and if your dreams do not equal Bayard Taylor’s or De Quincy’s, write to Box 393.


On October 25, this curious personal ad was published:

Fannie—I DID TRY THE HASHEESH; I will be there to-night. FRED.

Perhaps Fred tried hasheesh at Fannie’s suggestion, or so it would appear. Or perhaps an inventive public relations man placed the ad himself.

An ad the following day simply said:

OFFICE for MAGIC CONSERVES (Hasheesh), Box 393.

Finally, on October 27 a long article with copious quotes from Bayard Taylor appeared in the Chronicle under this headline:

PECULIAR DELIGHT. In the Realms of Bliss – Heaven on Earth—The Wonderful Hasheesh Candy—What the Great Bayard Taylor Says of it. 

No comments: