About 8 years ago SWMBO and I took a pleasure trip to the Minneapolis area and visited the Museum of Quackery.
Somewhere, I can't remember where now, I picked up a quackery gadget, a "Medical Shocker", and still have it:
It's got a built in single (very) wet cell battery to power it and works the same as a Ford Model T spark coil, using a vibrating magnetic interrupter to chop the current in the primary of the induction coil.
The coil core slides in and out to adjust the intensity of the shocks applied to the patient.
I never learned for sure what electrolyte was used in the battery, but it's electrodes appear to be copper and zinc, so maybe even lemon juice would work.
I put a 2 volt DC source across the battery terminals and the coil interupter buzzed away as expected. A scope showed the unloaded voltage at the electrode terminals was around 300 volts peak with the coil core pushed fully in.
The leads and electrodes which I got with this monster are lying in front of it.
The label inside the lid of the case lists a number of specialized accessory electrodes including (ouch) anal and vaginal ones.
My hazy recollection of how the magic juice for cars worked is that the salesman leans out the mixture and turns up the idle, so the engine runs starved and any flammable liquid poured into the carb will make it rev. I never did learn exactly how they reset the carb to drive it.
Slightly off topic, but my favorite of all times is a thing I saw an ad for once. It was an adapter with a cigarette lighter plug on one end and a 110 volt socket on the other end. They showed it being used to run a floor lamp from a car. Amazing. If you read the fine print you find that doing so requires a 12 volt bulb to fit your lamp...
pretty funny, but of course unlike "true" snake oil, it would actually work under the assumptions shown....
reminds me of a kitchen utensil that was available around christmas of about
1966 - the electric fork. The year before, the electric knife was introduced (a pretty worthless tool to start out with), so the next year, here comes the electric fork - of course it didn't do anyting, it was just a regular carving fork with a cord & plug attached to it.....
And then there was the electric potato peeler (a motor powered rotary knife like contraption) that would peel electric potatoes (....drum roll....) well, it would peel regular potatoes too, but only 1/5 as fast as a non-electric unit.
And, going way back, there was the diet pill that was one of the impetuses for the pure food and drug act - it contained a tapeworm egg or two - so take the pill, and you WOULD loose weight - (and probably die)
I agree, and by coincidence, my 50-year-old Chicago Cutlery plain-carbon steel carving knife will get a try on a nice big marinated brisket, charcoal broiled, on Sunday. It cuts thin slices of brisket for London broil just fine.
Note I said BBQ brisket, not grilled or broiled. BBQ brisket is smoked past the point of collagen breakdown (190 degrees or so), and will fall apart if you look at it cross-eyed, it is pretty much not sliceable except with an electric knife.