What’s The Story About Poppers?

The story of poppers begins in 1859 with the first reported use of alkyl nitrites by Sir Lauder Brunton.

The story ends in 2002 with the launch of AllAboutPoppers.com.

In between time, poppers have enjoyed and celebrated a century and a half of completely safe use.

Alkyl nitrites, their many benefits, and the millions who have benefited from them, is the major untold story of the pharmacological age in the midst of the great medical advances throughout the past two centuries.

This story will now be told thanks to AllAboutPoppers.com.

According to Time Magazine, by 1977 the Isobutyl nitrite odorant industry was exceeding $50 million a year.

Yet just as poppers were becoming well known and widely used, along came the puritan backlash of the nineteen-AIDies. As part of the anti-pleasure campaign, ‘The Health Years’ as they are ironically known, records we unearthed indicate poppers were falsely discredited and ultimately banned, based solely on a campaign of misinformation, falsehoods and outright misstatements of fact by a small group of self-serving lay persons — and, in some cases, researchers of dubious intent and personal agendas, whose ‘research’ was suspect at best, and sloppy at worst. These self-proclaimed ‘experts’ did not have the knowledge of immunology or epidemology to make informed judgements about AIDS or its cause, or they simply disregarded proper research protocol and/or dismissed the truth if it did not suit their agendas.

What we discovered shows that, in San Francisco in 1981, Hank Wilson formed the one-man Committee to Monitor Poppers, the spearhead of the anti-poppers zealotry. This was the same year that the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s study on nitrite room odorants (often misused as poppers) showed clear evidence that poppers are amongst the safest consumer products ever to be put on the market.

Also in 1981, the Food and Drug Administration declared that no restrictive action against these products was necessary because of the total absence of ‘any demonstrable hazard’.

And yet for twenty more years the groundless anti-poppers campaign struggled on. Others joined Hank Wilson – Ian Young, John Lauritsen, Tom Bethnell – even after Wilson himself admitted that there was no firm evidence against alkyl nitrites.

In the face of all the evidence and common sense to the contrary, legislation in 1990 made nitrite odorants illegal to sell. The ultimate legislation written to ban these products was a few small lines of text, buried in a huge and unrelated bill, to avoid last minute detection and circumvent any effort to stop it from happening. So, on February 26, 1991, it suddenly became illegal to sell nitrite based room odorants in the USA — if they could be misused as inhalants. Whoosh! There went the industry, and here came the black market, which is what meets the voracious market demand of today’s popper enthusiasts. (NOTE: We found that the black market is where the ‘real thing’ is still sold, the genuine original formula brands, from the ‘good old days’. Most adult stores sell the still-legal version of poppers called “video head cleaner”. But, we discovered that these are inferior products, most often just called “headache-in-a-bottle” because they’re so bad. These include brands like “D&E”, “Purple”, and dozens of others. During hundreds of hours of research in the poppers news groups, we discovered that many specialty shops, especially in the gay community, and on the Web, sell the “real thing”.)

AllAboutPoppers.com has seen and researched stacks of documents and letters relating to efforts to ban these products, and we have them all here for you to read, too.

Finally, genuinely accurate information and facts for anyone who has an interest in these products — researchers, consumers and just plain interested folks. And we owe it all to the gay and lesbian archives in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City, as well as correspondence from various nitrite odorant manufacturers, shop owners, consumers, and others.

Emma Rodriguez