I read about Buckley's Cough Mixture at Boing Boing earlier this month and worked up the courage to look for and try some last night. It's ghastly and effective, and as I just realized, I'm paraphrasing the company slogan: "It tastes awful. And it works." Among the ingredients: menthol, camphor, Canadian balsam, and pine needle oil.
What is it like to swallow a teaspoon of Buckley's Cough Mixture? Imagine swallowing a toothbrush coated with Vicks VapoRub, sprinkled with retsina, and rolled in sawdust. The second time is worse than the first, as one knows what's coming.
I now have an idea of what it must have been like for my dad when his mother made him swallow a spoonful of Vicks for a cold. Dad, I have felt your pain!
Buckley's is a Canadian product (and, I gather, a Canadian tradition). I found some in an Illinois Walgreens. That's Frank Buckley, son of pharmacist and founder W.K. Buckley, in the photograph.
Buckley's (The company website)