Anacin was invented by William Milton Knight and was first estimated to be used in the year of 1916 as stated in the patent. Anacin is one of the oldest brands of pain relievers in the United States, first beginning sales in the 1930s. Anacin's mascot at the time was Ana Anacin, who was found in a number of ads of this product.
It was originally sold by The Anacin Co. ("Pharmaceutical Chemists") in Chicago, Illinois, later purchased by American Home Products, which manufactured Anacin through its Whitehall Laboratories) division.
Anacin is one of the earliest and best examples of a concerted television marketing campaign created for them in the late 1950's by Rosser Reeves of the Ted Bates ad agency. Many people remember the commercials advertising "tension producing" situations, and the "hammers in the head" advert with the slogan "Tension. Pressure. Pain."
A later Anacin advert (in 1962) featured a mother trying to assist her grown daughter with various chores, such as preparing a meal. "Don't you think it needs a little salt in it?", mother would say, only to have her nerve-racked daughter shout, "Mother, please, I'd rather do it myself!" As the mother wilted, the daughter would emote and rub her head, with her inner voice saying, "Control yourself! Sure, you're tired, you have a headache, but don't take it out on her!" These advertisement scenarios became popular and were parodied a number of times, including in the film Airplane.
Anacin had a large advertisement behind the center field fence in Yankee Stadium from the 1950s through 1973, prior to the stadium's renovation in 1974 and 1975.
Early Anacin radio commercials appeared in radio shows and dramas of the 1940s and '50s. These "formulaic" commercials always claimed that Anacin was being actively prescribed by doctors and dentists at the time, treated "headaches, neuritis and neuralgia," and that it contained "a combination of medically proven ingredients, like a doctor's prescription", without specifying those ingredients. The announcer then reminded the listener that Anacin was available "at any drug counter", and "come in handy (tin) boxes of 12 and 30, and economical family-size bottles of 50 and 100", usually spelling out its name at the end of the commercial: "A-N-A-C-I-N".
Anacin covers an entire family of pain relievers. There are six different formulations:
- Anacin Regular Strength - contains 400 mg aspirin and 32 mg caffeine per tablet.
- Anacin Extra Strength - contains 500 mg aspirin and 32 mg caffeine per tablet.
- Anacin Advanced - contains 250 mg acetaminophen, 250 mg aspirin and 65 mg caffeine per tablet.
- Anacin 81 - contains 81 mg aspirin per tablet.
- Aspirin Free - contains 500 mg paracetamol (acetaminophen) per tablet.
- Anacin 3 - Acetaminophen
- Anadin (similar brand sold in the UK)