Loop Back: Mouthwash Factory
Lavoris Mouthwash, marketed as a “healing antiseptic and deodorant” for the mouth, was produced, bottled and shipped from the company’s facility at 918 North 3rd Street for more than 35 years.
The company was founded in 1902 by a former drug store operator in downtown Minneapolis, Charles Leigh, along with business partners William Levings and Weed Munro. With the success of their early marketing efforts, they decided to build a new three-story production facility in the North Loop in 1922.
They built up their business by getting bottles of Lavoris into the hands of dentists who would use it with their patients, while also buying ads in national publications. A 1958 article noted that the company had no salespeople and that Lavoris was sold entirely by mail order “in all 48 states and many foreign countries.”
For a time, the company also touted Lavoris as an antiseptic because it contained zinc chloride. “For cleaning and dressing cuts, burns, insect bites, wounds of all kinds. It removes the danger of infection – blood poisoning – at the same time soothing and healing the affected parts.” But the American Medical Association determined that the level of zinc chloride was not substantial enough to be an effective medical treatment.
The Lavoris Company grew into what a 1958 newspaper article described as “one of the largest independent manufacturing chemists’ firms in the industry” with “one of the most modern bottling and packaging plants in the nation.” It was acquired by The Vick Company in 1958 in a $14 million exchange of stock, and operations at the North Loop facility continued for only a couple years.
The building was converted to residential units in 2004.
We have several more pages of neighborhood history in our Historic North Loop section.
By Mike Binkley, North Loop volunteer