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Drinking History

Drinking History: Fifteen Turning Points in the Making of American Beverages

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    Drinking History
    Book Description:

    A companion to Andrew F. Smith's critically acclaimed and popularEating History: Thirty Turning Points in the Making of American Cuisine, this volume recounts the individuals, ingredients, corporations, controversies, and myriad events responsible for America's diverse and complex beverage scene. Smith revisits the country's major historical moments -- colonization, the American Revolution, the Whiskey Rebellion, the temperance movement, Prohibition, and its repeal -- and he tracks the growth of the American beverage industry throughout the world. The result is an intoxicating encounter with an often overlooked aspect of American culture and global influence.

    Americans have invented, adopted, modified, and commercialized tens of thousands of beverages -- whether alcoholic or nonalcoholic, carbonated or caffeinated, warm or frozen, watery or thick, spicy or sweet. These include uncommon cocktails, varieties of coffee and milk, and such iconic creations as Welch's Grape Juice, Coca-Cola, root beer, and Kool-Aid. Involved in their creation and promotion were entrepreneurs and environmentalists, bartenders and bottlers, politicians and lobbyists, organized and unorganized criminals, teetotalers and drunks, German and Italian immigrants, savvy advertisers and gullible consumers, prohibitionists and medical professionals, and everyday Americans in love with their brew.

    Smith weaves a wild history full of surprising stories and explanations for such classic slogans as "taxation with and without representation;" "the lips that touch wine will never touch mine;" and "rum, Romanism, and rebellion." He reintroduces readers to Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and the colorful John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed), and he rediscovers America's vast literary and cultural engagement with beverages and their relationship to politics, identity, and health.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53099-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Prologue
    (pp. 1-5)

    In the beginning was water. Life on Earth began in the oceans, and when life forms emerged on dry land 400 million years ago, water remained quintessential to life. The body weight of all animals is mostly water. Humans, for instance, consist of approximately 55 to 75 percent water, depending on body composition and age.¹ Without water, life on Earth (as we know it) would not exist.

    In its purest form, water has no calories, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, or minerals, yet it is the most important nutrient for humans. It is the universal solvent, and many substances, such as...

  6. 1 Colonial Diversity
    (pp. 7-21)

    On april 26, 1607, three ships—theSusan Constant, theGodspeed, and theDiscovery—sailed into the Chesapeake Bay with approximately 100 colonists onboard. These colonists founded a small settlement along the James River, which became the first successful English colony in North America.

    From the beginning, the Jamestown settlement was none too promising, and one serious problem that the colonists faced concerned the issue of beverages. They had brought beer and malt with them, but eventually their supplies ran out and they were reduced to drinking water, which did not please them at all. Although soon after his arrival...

  7. 2 An Essential Ingredient in American Independence
    (pp. 23-39)

    George grenville became Great Britain’s first lord of the treasury in April 1736, shortly after the country emerged from the Seven Years’ War. The war had pitted the alliance of Britain, Prussia, and Portugal against France, Russia, Austria, Sweden, and Spain. By the war’s end in February 1763, the British had captured French factories in India, slave stations in Africa, and several sugar islands in the Caribbean. In North America, British and colonial forces defeated the French in Canada. The Treaty of Paris, which ended the war, mandated that most of the captured territories be returned to the original mother...

  8. 3 Tea Parties
    (pp. 41-59)

    On december 16, 1773, Bostonians and representatives from surrounding communities assembled at the Old South Meeting House in Boston. Not only was the meeting house filled, but a crowd of several thousand milled around outside. New England citizens had been assembling at town meetings like this for the past several weeks, but this was by far the largest gathering. Most of those assembled had come from Boston and the surrounding communities, but one group had come from as far away as Maine, which was then part of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The topic of discussion at these meetings was a...

  9. 4 Tarantula Juice
    (pp. 61-75)

    Rum was the dominant American spirit before the Revolutionary War. However, when the war broke out in 1775, the importation of molasses from the Caribbean almost ceased, and it remained difficult to acquire molasses during the following eight years. Whiskey, however, was the obvious alternative. Whiskey could be made from abundant locally grown grain, so its production and consumption skyrocketed during the war.

    In 1778, distilleries in Virginia bought so much of the available grain for whiskey making that the state legislature prohibited the distilleries from using it to make spirits; legislators wanted to ensure there was enough grain for...

  10. 5 Cider’s Last Hurrah
    (pp. 77-89)

    General william henry harrison was a successful military leader who is credited with winning the Battle of Tippecanoe against the Shawnee in 1811 and subsequent engagements against the British during the War of 1812. After that war, Harrison served in several governmental positions, but when Andrew Jackson was elected president in 1828, he retired to Ohio and lived off the proceeds from his farm. In 1836, Harrison was nominated by the Whigs to be their candidate for president. After being soundly defeated by the Democratic candidate, Martin Van Buren, the sixty-three-year-old Harrison again retired to his farm, where he most...

  11. 6 The Most Popular Drink of the Day
    (pp. 91-109)

    German immigrant Johann Wagner set sail on a clipper ship bound to America in 1840. Many other Germans had made the same trip, but Wagner carried with him something that would change the way Americans refreshed themselves:Saccharomyces pastorianus, a yeast commonly used to brew beer in Bavaria. Unlike the yeast used by American, English, Dutch, and most other German brewers, Bavarian yeast settled to the bottom of the vat during fermentation, thereby slowing the brewing process. Because the beer took weeks to ferment, it had to be stored, which was why the Germans called itlagerbier(stored beer)—a...

  12. 7 Nature’s Perfect Food
    (pp. 111-123)

    Infant mortality was high throughout the United States, but the rates were most appalling in cities, particularly Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. Worse still, the mortality rate was rapidly increasing. In 1814, for example, 25 percent of the babies born in Philadelphia died before they reached the age of five years. By 1839, this mortality rate had increased to almost 51 percent. Over a similar time period, the infant mortality rate in Boston increased from 33 percent to 43 percent; in New York, it increased from 32 percent to 50 percent. By the 1850s, children younger than ten years accounted...

  13. 8 The Most Delightful and Insinuating Potations
    (pp. 125-139)

    The new york publisher Dick & Fitzgerald specialized in “how-to” guides and reference works. On June 4, 1859, it announced the publication ofThe Bar-Tender’s Guide: or, Complete Encyclopedia of Fancy Drinks; a few weeks later, it copyrighted the work. As was typical for the time, the publisher advertised books ahead of publication; if few orders came in, it simply did not publish the title. This is likely the reason for the delayed release of this now-classic manualThe Bar-Tender’s Guide; or How to Mix Drinks. The author was identified as Jerry Thomas, formerly the “principal Bartender at the Metropolitan Hotel,...

  14. 9 Unfermented Wine
    (pp. 141-153)

    Fruit juice was so closely associated with alcohol that temperance advocates opposed making and drinking it. This view changed in the mid-nineteenth century for a very unusual reason: some churchgoing Christian temperance advocates were faced with the problem of celebrating communion without using wine. One solution was to reinterpret the New Testament, promoting the view that the passages mentioning wine had been mistranslated and misinterpreted. References to wine, some religious scholars decided, actually referred tounfermentedwine—that is, grape juice.¹ Other theologians disagreed, concluding that this was a complete misrepresentation of scriptures.²

    Whatever its religious merits, the idea of...

  15. 10 The Temperance Beverage
    (pp. 155-165)

    In 1885, Atlanta druggist John Stith Pemberton needed a new product on his pharmacy shelves. Sales of his popular Pemberton’s French Wine Coca, compounded from his own formula consisting mainly of wine and cocaine, were in jeopardy—not because of the cocaine, which was neither illegal nor unusual at the time, but because Atlanta had passed temperance legislation forbidding the manufacture and sale of alcohol (including wine) in the city.¹ Pemberton started experimenting with other mixtures, hoping to formulate a “temperance medicine” using a concoction of coca leaves, kola nut extract, sugar, and flavorings: when he felt he had the...

  16. 11 To Root Out a Bad Habit
    (pp. 167-187)

    Beginning in the late nineteenth century, prohibition advocates successfully passed legislation at the local and state levels that banned the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages. The laws did not make much difference, however; most drinkers just crossed county or state lines and bought liquor where it was legal. Moreover, anti-prohibition forces had a habit of repealing the “dry” laws as soon as they gained the legislative upper hand. As a result, prohibitionists resolved that the only real solution would be an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Only then would the manufacture and sale of alcohol be illegal in every...

  17. 12 Youth Beverages
    (pp. 189-199)

    In 1920, Edwin Perkins—head of the Perkins Products Company of Hastings, Nebraska—marketed a new drink mix called Fruit Smack—a bottled syrup to be combined with water and sugar. The product did fairly well, but the heavy bottles were expensive to mail and they often broke in transit, dismaying customers and costing Perkins money to replace. In 1927, he came up with the ideal alternative: inspired by the tremendous success of Jell-O dessert powder, Perkins devised a powdered concentrate to be sold in paper packets. Customers still just had to add water and sugar, but with paper packets...

  18. 13 Judgment of Paris
    (pp. 201-215)

    A young englishman named Steven Spurrier bought a Parisian wine shop called Les Caves de la Madeleine. He startled the French wine world in 1973 when, with an American partner named Patricia Gallagher, he launched a wine school, l’Académie du vin. What could two foreigners know about wine, the French wondered. Spurrier became something of a celebrity, and California wine producers began visiting his shop, sometimes bringing samples of their best wines.

    At the time, California vineyards mainly produced inexpensive jug wines, but for a few years some wineries had also been producing premium wines. Les Caves de la Madeline...

  19. 14 The Only Proper Drink for Man
    (pp. 217-231)

    Bruce nevins was a veteran advertising executive. After graduating from the Stanford Business School, he worked in advertising at Benton & Bowles in Manhattan before moving on to Levi Strauss to become merchandising manager for international operations, where he spearheaded the advertising campaign that propelled Levi’s jeans from $10 million operation to a $400 million operation in 1973. He left Levi Strauss and began consulting with small companies. In February 1976, while acting as a consultant for Pony Sporting Goods, a small Canadian firm, Nevins visited Paris to meet with one of the company’s investors, Gustave Leven. Leven also happened to...

  20. 15 The Coffee Experience
    (pp. 233-246)

    A xerox salesman named Howard Schultz was offered a job with Perstorp, a Swedish company just starting up an American operation to sell housewares and building supplies in 1979. After a stint as a salesman with the company, Schultz was placed in charge of the firm’s twenty American sales representatives. He soon noticed an anomaly in the sales figures: a very small chain of stores in Seattle was ordering an awful lot of Hammarplast plastic drip coffee-makers. In 1981, Schultz traveled to Seattle to find out more about the small chain called Starbucks Coffee, Tea and Spice.

    Starbucks had only...

  21. Epilogue
    (pp. 247-250)

    If the fifteen turning points presented in this book tell us anything about American beverage history, it is that change is endemic. The most significant turning point was the first: colonial diversity. None of the beverages drunk by Native Americans prior to the colonial period—water excluded—were adopted by European settlers.

    The colonists, coming from different countries and cultures, brought their own beverage preferences and traditions with them, so no one drink predominated. Of course, as settlers in a new world, the colonists had to adapt their beverage recipes and formulas, as well as their drinking habits. The barley...

  22. Notes
    (pp. 251-294)
  23. Bibliography
    (pp. 295-306)
  24. Index
    (pp. 307-320)
  25. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-322)