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"a most wonderful invigorator of sexual organs"
February 10, 2013 6:40 AM   Subscribe

This "intellectual beverage" and temperance drink (after they took the alcohol out) contains the valuable tonic and nerve stimulant properties of the Coca plant and cola (or Kola) nuts. Or it used to, until they took the cocaine out. But why did they do that? Not because it was illegal--that didn't happen until eleven years later.
posted by Obscure Reference (46 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
There was a cool little piece in the Times about this stuff too: "When Jim Crow Drank Coke."
posted by grobstein at 6:57 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


How much cocaine would I need to add to my homemade soda mix in order to get "intellectual"?
posted by orme at 7:01 AM on February 10, 2013 [5 favorites]


Because it's fine when the white folks have "reinvigorated sexual organs," but not those scary black men with ... well, you know.

That period between 1890 and 1930 was the most racist time of our history. Terrifying really.
posted by RedEmma at 7:04 AM on February 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Remember kids, substances only become bad when poor and or minority people use them.
posted by The Whelk at 7:09 AM on February 10, 2013 [27 favorites]


Coca leaf tea was the most compelling and productive stimulant I ever tried, way better for working flat out over long periods than its more refined derivatives, with which I also have experience. I wrote 450 good pages in 6 weeks on that stuff once, while working 50 hours a week on other tasks. By the end I had forgotten I ever loved coffee. I was sad when my one time mammoth stash (thank you Peru researching friend) ran out.

If you ever get to the Andean countries where it is commercial and legal, as it should be, give it a try. It's like your brain got upped to 16gb of RAM.
posted by spitbull at 7:12 AM on February 10, 2013 [23 favorites]


Honestly, can any sort of baffling development in US history be reduced to "because racism"?
posted by MartinWisse at 7:13 AM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yes.
posted by spitbull at 7:14 AM on February 10, 2013 [12 favorites]


Honestly, can any sort of baffling development in US history be reduced to "because racism"?

Only about 3/5 of them.
posted by GooseOnTheLoose at 7:19 AM on February 10, 2013 [81 favorites]


vin mariani: the 19th century's four loko
posted by rap and country at 7:20 AM on February 10, 2013 [8 favorites]


Because it's fine when the white folks have "reinvigorated sexual organs,"

By 'reinvigorated', don't they mean 'shrunk to the size of a peanut'?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 7:29 AM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


RedEmma, I think "the most racist time in our history" is hard to quantify, but arguably Jim Crow ain't it. For the prior few centuries, racism was so entrenched as common sense that most white people approved of slavery and genocide as a just social order.

When it became a matter of conflict between whites, things started to change. Jim Crow was a backlash. But before then, there was no reason to be concerned if you were a racist.

I know it's hard to see lynching and resegregation and Indian reservations as progress. But arguably they were in fact signs of it, which is why we remember that as the wrong side of history, but give our colonial slaveholding and Indian-killing ancestors a pass.

Look upon your twenty/Andrew Jackson was a bitch, as Red Eagle puts it.
posted by spitbull at 7:31 AM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


That period between 1890 and 1930 was the most racist time of our history.

Apart from the period of actual racial slavery, perhaps.
posted by Segundus at 7:38 AM on February 10, 2013 [3 favorites]


“I will kiss you quite red and feed you till you are plump...and if you are forward you shall see who is the stronger, a gentle little girl who doesn’t eat enough or a big wild man who has cocaine in his body.” Sigmund Freud was also a fan of Vin Mariani apparently.

I was wondering what became of Vin Mariani - since the French are not generally keen on anybody changing ingredients of something they like for political reasons. You can still get it! (well - if you believe the claims of the linked site)
posted by rongorongo at 7:49 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


A good piece on the double standard applied to the Coca-Cola company and Bolivian peasants, made all the more congenial by the discovery that its author, Ricardo Cortes, is the surely-mutually-incompatible author of “A Secret History of Coffee, Coca & Cola” and the illustrator of “Go the Fuck to Sleep.”
posted by Devonian at 7:55 AM on February 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think it's high time to put cocaine back into Coca-Cola, or "Co-cola", as we used to call it back in Alabama.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:00 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone, who isn't me (aka: SWIM), has always been curious about coca leaf. I don't know if it's the ADD in them or what, but when they tried other stimulants beyond caffeine, they got super tired. They feel like, maybe it's pushing their body too hard (well, MDMA excepted, that, well... that's just its own thing).

They wouldn't ever really want to try pure cocaine, as they feel that might be too much for their poor obese self. But they always thought a little coca leaf indulgence would be wonderfully productive for them. Admittedly, the only other uppers besides caffeine that they tried was methylphenidate (ritalin) and ephedrine (before the panic kicked in about that). They were quite curious about 4-methyl-aminorex after reading an article by R.U. Sirius, but later learned it's a pretty intense stimulant.

But coca leaf? Yeah, that's something that this other person feels might be beneficial to their productivity.
posted by symbioid at 8:01 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyone with a nickel, black or white, could now drink the cocaine-infused beverage. Middle-class whites worried that soft drinks were contributing to what they saw as exploding cocaine use among African-Americans.

It was the invention of the bottle cap. Without that coca-cola could only be mixed at the counter where blacks would not have been welcomed.
posted by three blind mice at 8:01 AM on February 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


Compare and contrast to 7-Up, which kept its mood-affecting lithium citrate right up until just before an amendment to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act would have forced them to sell the product as a pharmaceutical instead of a soft drink.
posted by radwolf76 at 8:01 AM on February 10, 2013 [7 favorites]


If you ever get to the Andean countries where it is commercial and legal, as it should be, give it a try. It's like your brain got upped to 16gb of RAM.

I wonder if the coca leaf formulation has smoother kinetics. Improving your work ability makes sense, since cocaine and methylphenidate (i.e. Ritalin) are structural and pharmacological cousins, but usually the half-life of cocaine in the brain is much shorter.
posted by en forme de poire at 8:04 AM on February 10, 2013


Did I forget to mention it was delicious?
posted by spitbull at 8:08 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Like any natural product, coca leaf contains a lot more than just cocaine (and is clearly less destructive in practice.)

I enjoy the hell out of coffee, but caffeine pills? Blechhh.
posted by msalt at 8:08 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like a nice coq au vin, but I had never heard of coke au vin before. Fascinating.
posted by adamrice at 8:16 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Got WAY into chewing on kola nuts when I lived in Nigeria back in '81. Nice pick-me-up.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:26 AM on February 10, 2013


I think it's high time to put cocaine back into Coca-Cola

Why fuck around with that? Just do it like the professionals and toss a quarter-gram in your shot of tequila.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:37 AM on February 10, 2013


toss a quarter-gram in your shot of tequila.

That's what we used to call a tequila mockingbird.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:39 AM on February 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's what we used to call a tequila mockingbird.

Because it's a pretty quick way to bust up your chiffarobe.
posted by radwolf76 at 9:25 AM on February 10, 2013 [6 favorites]


I enjoy the hell out of coffee, but caffeine pills? Blechhh.

Lotte brand Black Black Chewing Gum is fun.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:07 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'm being flippant. It was the nadir of the time after the Civil War, at any rate.
posted by RedEmma at 10:20 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


From Grobstein's link: The campaign was so successful that many Americans began using a racial epithet to describe Pepsi.

Okay, now I'm curious. Weirdly, googling "Pepsi racial slur" turns up suggestions that French Canadians are stereotypically fond of Pepsi, which is interesting but I think probably not what they meant.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:25 AM on February 10, 2013


Ah, here we go. It was depressingly easy to guess.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 10:27 AM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Imagine what could've been in this country if poverty and suffering and hunger, engorged the sexual organs of black people...

Anyhow, Coca Leaf tea has got to be available somehow. Perhaps it can be reverse engineered from cocaine?
posted by Skygazer at 10:34 AM on February 10, 2013


Because it's fine when the white folks have "reinvigorated sexual organs," but not those scary black men with ... well, you know.

That period between 1890 and 1930 was the most racist time of our history. Terrifying really.
posted by RedEmma

"Because it's fine when the white folks have "reinvigorated sexual organs,"

By 'reinvigorated', don't they mean 'shrunk to the size of a peanut'?
posted by PeterMcDermott


Over the last several years I've become convinced that, way, way down at bottom, lynching is the American form of penis panic.
posted by jamjam at 11:11 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was sad when my one time mammoth stash (thank you Peru researching friend) ran out.

No need for Peruvian friends to restock.
I am not quite sure why this is legal, but try Amazon.com.
posted by St. Sorryass at 11:25 AM on February 10, 2013


Reading the NYT article, i wonder about Pepsi's rship to Quebec, and think it might be similar?
posted by PinkMoose at 11:27 AM on February 10, 2013


Apparently "de-cocanized" mate de coca is legal in the US. The real stuff is definitely illegal in the US (and will throw you a positive drug test, btw). I am damn sure not ordering it from Amazon to check on which they're selling, however.
posted by spitbull at 11:56 AM on February 10, 2013


Spitbull, what's your source for the fact that it's illegal in the US? My SIL brought me some back from Ecuador, didn't know what it was, just knew that everyone was drinking it all the time. I tried it and didn't really like it --it made me kind of twitchy -- but I keep it around in case I need a super-wakeup concoction. Anyway, when I was confirming that it was coca mate, I ran across a number of statements that indicated that it was fine to bring into the US in personal-use quantities, even fully leaded.
posted by KathrynT at 1:39 PM on February 10, 2013


...the counter where blacks would not have been welcomed.

So in 1900 were there no black food establishments Pemberton could sell his product to? Or was he not inclined to? Serious question, if anyone knows.

As to Pepsi, well, news to me, and sad news to be sure. Of course, it's Hefner's preferred cola, and he's always been pretty progressive at least as far as race is concerned. (Non-serious comment, because really, how could I not?)
posted by IndigoJones at 2:44 PM on February 10, 2013


When I was returning from Peru, they didn't merely warn about coca leaves--they didn't want me to have any plant matter whatsoever.
posted by Obscure Reference at 3:04 PM on February 10, 2013


Wikipedia says it's illegal in the US. I was told so in Colombia by someone who would know. Best I've got.

Believe me I'd love to hear differently.
posted by spitbull at 3:48 PM on February 10, 2013


Gotta also crack up that the Amazon seller claiming to have mate de coca is named "Mysterious Bolivian."
posted by spitbull at 3:58 PM on February 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Coca leaf is a Schedule I drug on the Yellow List of illegal narcotics covered by the UN Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs^, 1961, with the exception of leaves from which "all ecgonine, cocaine and any other ecgonine alkaloids have been removed", so that may explain the importation (for which there is even a somewhat opaque federal regulation). Bolivia recently won a reprieve from compliance as it considers traditional coca leaf chewing non-criminal.
posted by dhartung at 6:42 PM on February 10, 2013


The name of my next lounge music quintet is going to be Penis Panic.
posted by Skygazer at 9:07 PM on February 10, 2013


All of our drug laws are racially motivated.
posted by mike3k at 10:42 PM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even Meth? 'Cause I tend to think of that as a white persons drug.
posted by Mitheral at 3:40 AM on February 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


Even Meth? 'Cause I tend to think of that as a white persons drug.

Poor white people, though. See, sometimes they get "Honorary Negro" status from the powers that be.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:46 AM on February 11, 2013 [4 favorites]


Was there actual cocaine in coca cola, or just coca leaf extract?

I drank coca leaf tea in Peru (not just once to try, but daily over several weeks). It had absolutely no discernable cocaine-like effect. I get more of a buzz off a cup of coffee.
posted by Sara C. at 8:12 AM on February 15, 2013


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