While researching folk magic for a new book, I stumbled across numerous references to Hoyt’s Cologne, an old-style toilet water that was supposed to bring people good luck, especially when gambling.
Originally called Hoyt’s German Cologne (until World War I made the name less optimal), the cologne was developed in 1868 by apothecary Eli Waite Hoyt. Usually described as floral in scent–and very strong–the cologne became so successful that Hoyt sold his apothecary shop seven years later to devote his time to the product.
The product is still available today, including on Amazon. One reviewer stated that it’s definite not subtle. Another described it as “very manly.” Wisdom Products describes it this way:
Hoyt’s Cologne developed in 1868 is truly an old fashioned fragrance reminiscent of early American colognes. A clean and refreshing scent with fragrance notes of citrus and floral. Hoyt’s is widely believed to bring good luck. Splash on your hands and body before playing games of chance.
OEDUSA suggests splashing it on before and after shaving, adding that:
Though the company will never reveal the full formula some of the essences used to create the scent are: bergamot and neroli to add a citrusy note; orange blossom for a warm floral undertone with an element of dry orange; and lavender for a hint of refreshing herbal. In our opinion this is a delightful cologne that will pleasantly surpirse the uninitiated.
Today, E. F. Hoyt & Company’s beautiful advertising cards and signs are sought after by collectors of vintage designs. Developed by Freeman Ballard Shedd, the cards were originally soaked in the cologne when handing out sample bottles became too expensive.
The “Girl in a Rose” series of trading cards was especially popular. You can see an assortment of these cards on Cliff & Linda Hoyt’s This Card Perfumed with “Hoyt’s German Cologne” website.
Catherine Yronwode, who operates the Lucky Mojo Curio Company, with its extensive hoodoo information site, mentions interviewing a man who worked for many years for Lucky Heart, a company that featured African American cosmetics and spiritual supplies.
He told her that a lady once came into the drug store where he worked as a child, bought a bottle of Hoyt’s, emptied the contents on her hair, and left the bottle on the counter, and saying, “I’m gonna get lucky tonight!”
I don’t know yet whether I’ll mention Hoyt’s Cologne in the book, but with my love of magic as well as vintage advertising, discovering Hoyt’s Cologne was an interesting “research trip.”
The current owner of Hoyt’s and the Hoyt’s trademark is Indio Products.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Florida Folk Magic Series, including the newly released “Fate’s Arrows.” These “conjure and crime” novels are set in the Florida Panhandle of the 1950s.
3 thoughts on “Remembering Hoyt’s Cologne”
You just sniffed this one out, didn’t you!
More or less. From the descriptions, I don’t think I’d want to try it. No doubt, grizzly bears get really ticked if they smell it in the forest with a few miles of them.
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