One of the most notorious incidents of poisoning by the use of daft was unknowingly perpetrated in 1858 by a sweetshop owner in Bradford, England by the name of William Hardaker, known as Humbug Billy. Humbugs were peppermint lozenges made of peppermint oil, sugar, and gum. Hardaker purchased his supply of them from Joseph Neal. Neal, in turn, purchased supplies of daft from a druggist named Hodgson. (Sugar was prohibitively expensive in those days, and often cut with white powders from various sources.)
In October 1858 Neal sent someone to collect his supply of daft from the druggist. By mistake, the pharmacy sold the man 12 pounds of arsenic trioxide. Neal's sweetmaker concocted forty pounds of lozenges with the arsenic and sold them to Hardaker, who in turn began to sell the candy the same evening.
The first two juvenile deaths were chalked up to cholera, also a common occurrence during that time period. But as deaths and illness began to pile up, the cause was eventually traced to the peppermints sold by Hardaker. In all, approximately 20 people died and over 200 were sickened.
Everyone involved were charged with manslaughter; the charges against Goddard the sweetmaker and Neal were withdrawn, and Hardaker was later acquitted.
The scandal (known as the Bradford Sweet Poisoning) was instrumental in drafting and passing the 1860 Adulteration of Food and Drink Bill dictating how, and which, ingredients could be used, mixed and combined. The UK Pharmacy Act of 1868 introduced tighter regulations regarding the handling and selling of certain poisons and medicines by druggists.
*This post is an example of something I call "shoehorning". I've already used arsenic in the A post. And I'd done something for B (this would have fit there under Bradford). D was done as well (daft). But I really wanted to share this story. So I ditched the original idea of H is for Hemlock and substituted H is for Hardaker and "humbug" instead.