VegaCal was a liver tonic concocted and sold by W. D. Taylor, a Bessemer pharmacist in the early 20th century. The tonic was marketed as containing a vegetable-based alternative to the mineral calomel (mercury chloride), which, though toxic, was popularly used as a medication through the 19th century. By contrast, VegaCal contained extracts of cascara (chitticum), senna, peppermint and cassia in a sugar syrup, bottled with 12% alcohol by volume.
The product is also notable for its cast-iron roadside signs that took the form of flattened life-size male figures standing with arms outstretched and a slogan in relief on each side. The two-sided heads were more rounded and were topped by a hat with a deeply-pinched crown. The 6'-4" tall signs were cast in a local foundry and erected in various locations around the state. The slogans read "VegaCal GETS THE BILE" on one side and "VegaCal FOR THE LIVER" on the other.
A well-preserved example of a VegaCal sign was moved from its original location to a concrete plinth outside the Ironman Grocery in Hartselle (Morgan County).
- Brook, Ginger (January 14, 2008) "Pics from Lawrence, Morgan, and Cullman County AL" Deep Fried Kudzu
- Save Outdoor Sculpture, Alabama survey (1993) "The Ironman (sculpture)". Inventories of American Painting and Sculpture, Smithsonian American Art Museum
- VegaCal iron man photo on Flickr.com