As an end-of prohibition day special, I just couldn't resist linking to this article from HistoryNet. An excellent article about Prohibition and all of the attendant stupidity can be found here.
Some choice information about the history of Prohibition and the relationship of America with alcohol:
- "The Pilgrims drank so much beer on Mayflower that they’d almost run out by the time they reached America, and they may have landed at Plymouth simply because they didn’t have enough beer to fuel the search for a better place. 'We could not now take time for further search and consideration,' one passenger wrote, 'our victuals being much spent, especially our beere.'"
- And, if you want to know the first American Beer Cocktail - beer (either ale or lager, probably depending on where in colonial America you were and whether the town was English or German), molasses and rum: "Among the most popular concoctions in colonial-era taverns was a drink called 'Flip.' The bartender filled about two-thirds of a mug or pitcher with beer, added a dollop of rum, sweetened the cocktail with sugar, molasses or dried pumpkin and then stirred it with a red-hot poker, which made the drink bubble, gurgle and steam."
- "By then [the 1790s], nearly every American farm contained a sizable apple orchard—not to make apple pie but to make hard cider, which was the country’s most popular beverage, guzzled daily by young and old alike. 'In rural areas, cider took the place not only of wine and beer but of coffee and tea, juice and even water,' wrote culinary historian Michael Pollan. 'Indeed, in many places cider was consumed more freely than water, even by children.'"
- "Paine’s Celery Compound, advertised [in the late 1800s and turn of the century] as a 'Nerve Tonic and Alternative Medicine,' contained a mere 21 percent alcohol, but the booze was fortified by a dose of cocaine, which no doubt contributed to its popularity."
- "Part of the popularity of patent medicines was their appeal to a growing segment of the American population—prohibitionists. In fact, a patent medicine called 'Old Dr. Kaufmann’s Great Sulphur Bitters,' which contained 22 percent alcohol, targeted prohibitionists with ads featuring an endorsement by Mrs. S. Louise Barton, 'An Indefatigable and Life-Long Worker in the Temperance Cause.'"
- "The [original attempt at a prohibition] amendment failed in 1914, but gained strength during World War I, when the league exploited America’s anti-German hysteria by deliberately associating beer with German-American brewers. 'Kaiserism abroad and booze at home must go,' declared the [Anti-Saloon League]’s general counsel and wily Washington lobbyist, Wayne Wheeler."
- Some great imagery: "'There is as much chance of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment,' said Senator Morris Sheppard, 'as there is for a hummingbird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail.'"
- "We drink a beer while eating a hot dog at baseball games and sip a Bloody Mary while tailgating at football games. World Series winners celebrate by pouring champagne over their teammates’ heads. And stock car racing—which came into its own as a sport after World War II—was created by moonshiners. ... Moonshiners souped up their cars so they could outrun federal 'revenuers' on twisty mountain roads and, in the 1940s, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing began organizing races on dirt tracks. 'About all your good dirt track drivers were involved in moonshine,' Junior Johnson, the famous NASCAR driver, told me in an interview in 1999. 'That’s kind of the way it started.'"