WHILE askit is a brand known throughout the world, many are surprised that it originated in Glasgow and that its name sprung from the city’s dialect.
The askit name was born when two young girls entered the company’s first shop in north Glasgow and said to the other: “If it’s the lady chemist, I’ll ask it, if it’s the man chemist you ask it.”
Glaswegians pronounce the letter ‘a’ sharply and are known to drop the ‘for’ in “ask for it”.
The wife of askit inventor Adam Laidlaw overheard the conversation and suggested the name to her husband.
Askit emerged from a small apothecary shop in the early 1900s when it was common for customers to ask for cures to lesser ailments such as colds, flus and hangovers.
In response, Mr Laidlaw developed an aspirin and caffeine-based powder which proved popular however it was only produced on a cottage-industry scale.
It was not until 1920 that production was stepped up and a new factory unit was opened in Possilpark.
By 1940 the company was employing around 40 people and producing around 20 million powders a year. In the 1950s the company stepped up its export division to ship overseas to expat Scots in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
The company has stuck in the public consciousness thanks to a number of innovative advertising campaigns.
From 1971 to 1994 it ran the hugely successful ‘The askit Miseries’ campaign centred around drawings by creator of the Mr Men books Roger Hargreaves.
‘The askit Miseries’ were replaced by ‘The Wee Man’ in 1997.
Cumernauld-based askit was bought by Roche before being taken over by German pharmaceutical giant Bayer in 2006.
Bayer announced that it was withdrawing askit from shelves in October last year due to supply problems with a key ingredient.
The powders, which retails at £2.44, were being sold on online auction site eBay for £249.99 a packet after they were discontinued.