Pepsin is an enzyme that aids in digestion. It was also an ingredient in the early recipe for Pepsi, which gives that soda its name.
According to the City of Monticello website:
|History of the Pepsin Syrup Company|
|The history of the Pepsin Syrup Company dates back to the 1880s when Dr. William B. Caldwell first began prescribing his senna and pepsin laxative.William Burr Caldwell was born March 27, 1839, in Shelbyville, Missouri, the son of Samuel B.F. and Lucinda Steele Caldwell. In 1858 he attended the Eclectic Medical Institute in Cincinnati, Ohio. Soon after he became a student at a medical college in Keokuk, Iowa where he earned his diploma and began practicing medicine at Laclede, Missouri.Shortly before the Civil War he moved to Bloomington, Missouri and began a drug store business. He moved to Monticello, Illinois in 1885 when he purchased the Hamilton and Company Drug Store. He sold the drug business just one year later to Charles G. Armstrong and Charles H. Ridgley and moved his medical practice upstairs. Due to the popularity and high demand for his senna pepsin laxative, Dr. Caldwell began producing his prescription at the corner drug store by 1888.
It wasn’t until 1892 that Dr. Caldwell’s former store clerk, Charles H. Ridgley, conceived the idea of manufacturing the doctor’s famous prescription. Dr. Caldwell gave Ridgely and his partner, John Bell, permission to go ahead and as a result “syrup pepsin” was made in small quantities, bottled, and sold in neighboring counties.
The company was growing so rapidly that by 1902, Syrup Pepsin Company needed larger facilities. In August 1903, they purchased 180 feet of the William Holmes Block just west of the Wabash between Livingston and Washington Streets. This included the old Daniel Stickel residence on the hill, which seemed perfect, as it stood alone on a city block. With some remodeling and an extension added to the rear of the home, this two story brick home served as the factory for several years. It was at this time that Monticello residents began referring to this area as “Pepsin Hill.”
In 1925, Pepsin Syrup Company was sold for a reported $5,000,000 to Household Products Company, a division of Sterling Drugs Products, owner of several medicine businesses including Bayer Asprin, Pape Dispepsin, Phillips Milk of Magnesia, and Danderine.
Production continued under Pepsin Syrup Company until 1934 when it was renamed Dr. W.B. Caldwell, Inc. followed by Dr. W.B. Caldwell Co., Division of Sterling Drugs, Inc. in 1943, Centaur-Caldwell Division (makers of Castoria, Campho-Phenique, Z.B.T. Baby Powder, and Molle Shaving Cream) in 1948, National Brands Division of Sterling Drugs, Inc. in 1956, and by 1965 commonly known as Glenbrook Laboratories.
In 1984, Sterling Drugs Inc. announced they had signed a contract selling all trademark rights and inventories to Mentholatum Company of New York who closed the Monticello Plant in October 4, 1985.