April 17, 2009
APRIL OF FOOLS: SNEEZING POWDER
Harmless Fun! Well, yes and no. If we're talking about the original sneezing powder, the stuff that was sold up through the 1940s, then we should call it by its real name– dianisidine chlorosulphonate. This substance was adopted by the Germans in WWI as a chemical weapon. They poured it into shrapnel shells and fired it at the French, but its use was discontinued because "it has only limited ability to create casualties on the battlefield..." (quoting Chemical and Biological Warfare by Eric Croddy)
When you think about it purely from a pranksters perspective, it's almost a shame that the government banned dianisidine. It's been reported that a tiny dose of early sneezing powder was capable of causing an entire room full of people to have a mass sneezing fit. It's no wonder the product was key in launching the entire industry of commercial pranks.
These days sneezing powder is merely finely ground pepper. I guess the phrase "Harmful Fun!" just doesn't move product as well.