Living in the age of social media, it may often feel like there is no space free of advertising. But this is hardly a new phenomenon, as proven if you look down while walking the streets in the historic center of the city of Mérida.
On some sidewalks, you will be able to find old advertisements for Roberina, an early 20th-century medicine that claimed to cure headaches, toothaches, rheumatism, and colds; all for a mere 5 cents. It is believed that most of these plaques were located outside of drugstores and, with at least three remaining as of 2022, Mérida was likely the city in Mexico with the most of these mosaics.
Roberina was sold across most of the country, however, with archives showing adverts in central cities like Huauchinango and Mexico City. In fact, it seems to have even made its way into neighboring Guatemala. Mérida’s Historic Center apparently has a soft spot for retro adverts such as Roberina’s, since a couple of other contemporary mosaics for General Popo (a former tire manufacturer) can be found on modern storefronts of this area of the city.
Two of the adverts are easily located using the well-known Corners of Mérida. One can be found at El Mamey Corner (74th and 75th streets), and another at El Cardenal (63rd and 70th streets).