Commodore Council Invented BC Powder in Durham

Commodore CouncilOn October 31, 1886, Commodore Council, inventor of the famous BC headache powder, was born in Chatham County. He and his family moved to Durham, where he later made his living as a pharmacist after being educated at Duke and UNC.

Though to “take a powder” meant to leave the scene and thereby to shirk responsibility in most of the country during the 1940s, in North Carolina the expression meant something entirely different. Headache powders, usually mixtures of aspirin and caffeine, proved to be remarkably popular in the Tar Heel State, where Goody’s and Stanback also had their roots.  Mill workers especially benefited from the quick-acting powders, since they could be taken on the factory floor, keeping them at work and productive.

An old BC Powder sample

Council, who was known to many as Conny, invented BC Powder in 1906 while working at Germain Bernard’s Durham drugstore. The two men chose the name by combining the first letters of their surnames. They hired their first salesman in 1917, just in time for soldiers to carry BC Powders out of the South and around the world during World War I.

Council died in 1960 and is buried in Durham’s Maplewood Cemetery. BC Powder is still available at drug stores today.


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