Listerine is a brand of antiseptic mouthwash. Its original formula has notoriously strong flavor, although variations have been released that are marketed as tasting milder. The product is marketed under the slogan "Kills germs that cause bad breath". It was named after Joseph Lister who promoted the idea of sterile surgery by sterilizing instruments.
Listerine is one of the most popular mouthwashes sold in the United States. Originally marketed by the Lambert Pharmacal Company (which later became Warner-Lambert), it is currently manufactured and distributed by Johnson and Johnson since that company's acquisition of Pfizer's consumer healthcare division in late December 2006.
The Listerine brand name is also used on toothpaste, Listerine Whitening rinse, new Listerine Fluoride rinse (Listerine Tooth Defense), Listerine Agent Cool Blue (children's plaque disclosing rinse), PocketPaks, and PocketMist. In September 2007, Listerine began selling their own brand of self-dissolving teeth whitening strips.
First formulated by Dr. Joseph Lawrence and Jordan Wheat Lambert in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1879 as surgical antiseptic, it was given to dentists for oral care in 1895 and it was the first over-the-counter mouthwash sold in the United States in 1914.
In 1885, Lawrence sold his share to the Lambert Pharmacal Company.
According to Freakonomics:
In 1955, Lambert Pharmacal merged with New York-based Warner-Hudnut and became Warner-Lambert Pharmaceutical Company and incorporated in Delaware with its corporate headquarters in Morris, New Jersey. In 2000 Pfizer acquired Warner-Lambert. Among Lambert's assets was the original land for Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.
From 1921 until the mid-1970s, Listerine was also marketed as preventive and remedy for colds and sore throats. In 1976, the Federal Trade Commission ruled that these claims were misleading, and that Listerine had "no efficacy" at either preventing or alleviating the symptoms of sore throats and colds. Warner-Lambert was ordered to stop making the claims, and to include in the next $10.2 million dollars' of Listerine ads specific mention that "contrary to prior advertising, Listerine will not help prevent colds or sore throats or lessen their severity."
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