8. Patent medicines were endemic during the 19th century, with popular favorites such as Vin Mariani: a concotion of cocaine and wine
Vin Mariani, or Mariani wine, was one of the many patent medicines marketed during the mid-late 19th century allegedly capable of offering a curative to all manner of everyday ailments and conditions. Created in 1863 by Angelo Mariani, the precise recipe for the tonic remains unknown as Mariani failed to pass down the specifics behind the production of his cocawine; however, dubiously prominent among the known active ingredients was a mixture of cocaine – approximately 7.2 mg per ounce – and ordinary Bordeaux wine. The drink would later inspire John Pemberton’s “French Wine Coca”, which included the African kola nut as a source of caffeine stimulation; first sold in 1885 and which, following Georgian prohibition legislation the following year, would become Coca-Cola in 1886 with the replacement of alcohol with coca leaves.
Claiming the tonic medicine was capable of restoring health, energy, appetite, and vitality – suitable for “overworked men, delicate women, and sickly children” – the cocawine was particularly marketed towards athletes and artists, receiving significant endorsements from major contemporary figures; in addition to the alleged public support of over 8,000 doctors, Vin Mariani was supported by Pope Leo XIII, who actually appeared on a poster advertisement and awarded Mariani a medal at the Vatican for his dangerous creation, Thomas Edison, who used the drink as a stimulant, American President Ulysses S. Grant in his later life, and written testimonials survive from Emile Zola, Henri Rochefort, and Charles Gounod.