Tuesday, March 17, 2015

1902 LA Times Deceitful Spin On Coca Cola

LA Times February 25, 1902
Soda Fountain Fiends Multiplying

Slaves to the “Coca Cola” Habit.  [nameless] Los Angeles Physician Says it is as dangerous as any “Dope”.

Soda-fountain proprietors struck a bonanza when the drink coca cola was introduced, for all of the beverages sprung on a public desiring variety and change it stands first in favor, and its popularity, instead of waning, is on the increase.

That is what the men behind the marble counters in Los Angeles say.  They even go further and claim for the brown beverage qualities peculiar to those potions which make habitu├ęs or “fiends” of their drinkers.


A well dressed business man yesterday dropped into a Spring Street ice cream parlor, where soda water may be had in all its alluring variety of concoctions.  As soon as he entered the door, one of the white coated attendants said to another, “There comes one of our coca cola fiends”.
After the gentleman had quaffed the coffee-colored draught in evident appreciation, one of the drink dispensers volunteered some interesting information regarding coca cola “victims”.

According to his statement and those of several others who are in a position to observe, a great many people in Los Angeles have contracted the coca cola habit.

It is advertised to cure you of “that tired feeling” and is said by its habitues to have medicinal virtues that sooth the overworked mind and nerves.  Stimulating qualities are also claimed for it.
It is perhaps not statistical, but the statement is made that three-fourths of the men who drink soda fountain concoctions call for coca cola.  Also, that of those, a large percentage are brain workers.
A young politician of this city, who occupies a responsible position, drinks his coca cola twice a day regularly.  He declares that it has become very attractive to him and almost necessary on account of the relief it gives his nervous system.  He admits that he has the “habit” but thinks it a very good one, both because of its essential virtues and its cheapness.

The Cocaine Does It

Two or three of the largest sellers of soft drinks in the city were interviewed on the subject yesterday and they stated that a great many of the patrons call regularly and often for the drink and it is conceded by those who understand its nature that coca cola contains a small percentage of cocaine.  This accounts they say for the hold it has upon its drinkers.  It is claimed that very few women indulge to any great extent.

To determine if possible whether the small amount of cocaine in the beverage may be injurious or not and if so, to what extent, an interview was had with a prominent physician of this city, who is considered by his professional brethren as an expert on questions relating to kindred drugs used in anesthetics.

What A [nameless] Doctor Says

He says that the coca cola “habit” is a dangerous one to contact.  “If coca cola contains even the smallest percentage of cocaine” he says, “no one should allow himself to become a victim of it, for its effect will be similar in nature, though in a lesser degree, perhaps to that noticed in confirmed cocaine and morphine users.

“If I am not misinformed, the beverage contains extracts from the kola nut and the cocoa [sic] leaf, and therefore contain cocaine or caffeine, which is an alkaloid of cocaine.  It is a dangerous drink.

It figures that the LA Times lying through his teeth 'Doctor' is not even named!

Note that the article gives absolutely no basis for its descriptions of Coca beverage consumers as "fiends" - applying that description simply for consuming Coca as one would consume Coffee.

The L.A. Times ought to be ashamed of itself, and owes the public an apology for contributing to the hysteria that gave us the 20th century drug war and all its blights upon human rights and health.

See another example of an un-named person cited as an authority against dilute cocaine:
And see this example of scholarship that confuses dilute and ultra concentrated cocaine in order to discredit the use of the former:


jdgalt said...

Where's the lie? Didn't Coca-Cola in fact contain cocaine back then?

Douglas Andrew Willinger said...

The lie was that it was supposedly a "dangerous" drink.

Dangerous perhaps for Tobacco interests, though that was not specified.

Douglas Andrew Willinger said...

And also perhaps for sugar interests because with cocaine a local anesthetic, the numbing factor could serve to slow drinking for giving more of a feeling of satisfaction.

If you read the accounts carefully there is zero credibility to any charge that cocaine is a more dangerous drug than caffeine or nicotine when used in the same dilute contexts.