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Why We Took Cocaine Out of Soda

Posted on February 10th, 2013 at 17:15 by John Sinteur in category: News -- Write a comment


Hale’s account of the role of racism and social injustice in Coca-Cola’s removal of coca is corroborated by the attitudes that the shaped subsequent U.S. cocaine regulation movement. Cocaine wasn’t even illegal until 1914 — 11 years after Coca-Cola’s change — but a massive surge in cocaine use was at its peak at the turn of the century. Recreational use increased five-fold in a period of less than two decades. During that time, racially oriented arguments about rape and other violence, and social effects more so than physical health concerns, came to shape the discussion. The same hypersexuality that was touted as a selling point during the short-lived glory days of Vin Mariani was now a crux of cocaine’s bigoted indictment. U.S. State Department official Dr. Hamilton Wright said in 1910, “The use of cocaine by the negroes of the South is one of the most elusive and troublesome questions which confront the enforcement of the law … often the direct incentive to the crime of rape by the negroes.” Dr. Edward Williams described in the Medical Standard in 1914, “The negro who has become a cocaine-doper is a constant menace to his community. His whole nature is changed for the worse … timid negroes develop a degree of ‘Dutch courage’ which is sometimes almost incredible.”

Yes, even the Dutch were not spared from the racism.

  1. Uh, phrases like Dutch uncle and Dutch courage date back to the Dutch-English naval wars and have nothing to do with racism.

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