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I'm sure you probably know why Coca-Cola is called Coca-Cola. If you don't - cocaine. It was one of the key ingredients in coke's initial product. A less well known example is Vin Mariani. A French wine that was made with a mixture of 6 milligrams of cocaine per ounce of wine endorsed by numerous historical figures including Thomas Edison and Ulysses S. Grant. Edison claimed it helped him stay awake. Oh indeed Mr. Edison.

The reason this is relevant is because the dates for these things start in the mid 1800s. Vin Mariani was made in the 1860s, Coca-Cola was inspired by Vin Mariani and came a decade or two later. Suffice to say the coke craze spread pretty quickly. And it's not like this was coke-lite or anything like that. It was genuine cocaine, same as we have today. And you had similar mental and physical consequences atop raging addiction.

It wouldn't be banned until 1914 and even that was due more to racism than concern for its effects. The New York Times ran a story in 1914 decrying "negro cocaine fiends" [1] which is what finally started the push to it getting banned. The only reason it took so long is because people were addicted and tried to ignore or set aside the negative consequences of it all, or even deny they existed. And that was pretty easy to do - Edison and Grant don't exactly rank near the top of your list of famous druggies. Nonetheless, the consequences were real and widespread.

The point here is that if you go back to the times before 1914, it'd be easy to imagine a future full of an ever larger chunk of the population degenerating under the influence of an ever increasing number of cocaine driven products. And in fact it would have seemed odd to predict anything else. Because when you're predicting the future you never predict 90 degree turns, because they sound absurd. Yet it's paradoxical because one of the few things you can guarantee about the future is that there will be countless more of these 90 degree turns.

[1 raw text] - http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/History/Negro_cocaine_fi...

[1 New York Times paywalled version] - https://www.nytimes.com/1914/02/08/archives/negro-cocaine-fi...

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Fantastic, thoughtful post. I knew nothing of Vin Mariani!



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