In Lucky Luke vol 38, some character named Doc Doxey tries to sell a product that works for almost everything (elixir) like a Swiss army knife with very general reported usage. Is there a name for such a quack / hoax product, like a spam product that is promoted to have many uses for and against almost anything or good real life examples of actual such products?

The cover of a comic book, "A Lucky Luke Adventure" issue #38, titled "Doc Doxey's Elixir". The picture is of a Conestoga wagon with a sign saying "The Potion That Heals ALL". There's a man in a top hat sitting on the wagon, holding a glass bottle that has just been shattered by a bullet shot by a white-cowboy-hatted man on a horse.

2 Answers 2


snake oil

Snake oil is an expression that originally referred to fraudulent health products or unproven medicine but has come to refer to any product with questionable or unverifiable quality or benefit. By extension, a snake oil salesman is someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is himself or herself a fraud, quack, charlatan, or the like. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_oil

A less exciting word with a similar meaning nostrum or the term patent medicine

Panacea or magic bullet might also serve for this as these can be used without necessarily implying a medical cure (as a cure all where the problems don't have to be medical).

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    Snake oil is a good suggestion, however, it's not in the same league as a Swiss army knife in claim to versatility. However, nostrum, panacea and magic bullet are not supposed to be fraudulent or bogus.
    – Kris
    Oct 7, 2014 at 6:33
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    @Kris disagree about nostrum (="quack medicine" in my small Collins dictionary for example) certainly does imply bogus. Panacea and magic bullet imply fraudulent as they (usually) are not achievable esp. magic bullet - so I disagree on these too. Lastly; snake oil, as Wikipedia indicates, is applied to more than just medicines Oct 7, 2014 at 6:44
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    Look up in the dictionary and take it with faith. "Quack medicine" is not bogus either. Panacea and magic bullet are not. One can use a genuine thing in a bogus sense, though, as you tried with these two words. HTH.
    – Kris
    Oct 7, 2014 at 12:08
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    nostrum: ˈnɒstrəm` noun; a medicine prepared by an unqualified person, especially one that is not considered effective." goo.gl/8kplfU (Perhaps we disagree on the term bogus?) Oct 7, 2014 at 12:25
  • Thanks! There's also the expression paper tiger if you recognize that expression. If you use the product then it must work because then there is no dangerous tiger and the product works against dangerous tiger. Oct 7, 2014 at 13:32

Not sure of a generic expression, but you could always use Counterfeit.

From Wikipedia:

To counterfeit means to imitate something. Counterfeit products are fake replicas of the real product. Counterfeit products are often produced with the intent to take advantage of the superior value of the imitated product. The word counterfeit frequently describes both the forgeries of currency and documents, as well as the imitations of clothing, handbags, shoes, pharmaceuticals, aviation and automobile parts, watches, electronics (both parts and finished products), software, works of art, toys, movies. Counterfeit products tend to have fake company logos and brands. In the case of goods, it results in patent infringement or trademark infringement. Counterfeit consumer products have a reputation for being lower quality (sometimes not working at all) and may even include toxic elements. This has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, due to automobile and aviation accidents, poisoning, ceasing to take essential compounds (e.g. in the case a person takes non-working medicine, ...).

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