The Golden Era of Cocaine

the real thing

For a substance as illegal as cocaine, it's interesting to note that it also had its so-called "Golden Era". That was when a number of products containing varying amounts of cocaine were sold commercially-and legally.

One of the most famous cocaine products was Vin Mariani, the first of many cocaine-based wines. Jules Verne, who wrote Around The World In 80 Days, drank it; Louis Bleriot had a bottle in his cockpit during his strangely-accelerated flight across the English Channel.
Bartholidi, the architect responsible for the Statue of Liberty, declared:

"Vin Mariani seems to brighten to increase all our faculties; it is very probable that had I taken it 20 years ago, the Statue Of Liberty would have attained the height of several hundred meters."

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coca cola

The most famous cocaine product, of course, was a secret mix of coca-leaf extract, sugar and the caffeine-rich kola nut. Its name? One guess.

Developed by Atlanta pharmacist John Pemberton, Coca Cola was marketed as the perfect beverage for a "turbulent, inventive, noisy, neurotic new America," good for "any nerve trouble, mental and physical exhaustion."

Advertisements at the time declared the drink to be "one of the most delightful, cheering, and invigorating of fountain drinks." In 1886, every bottle contained the equivalent of a small line of cocaine.

By 1902, the Coca Cola Company had ceased to use coca-leaf extract in its manufacturing process. Interestingly, the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta does not mention or show anything that indicates the company had once used cocaine in its most famous product.