Vin Mariani

Vin Mariani

Vin Mariani was a mixture of wine and cocaine

Vin Mariani was a mixture of wine and cocaine that was popular in Europe during the late 1800s. Two popes were known to drink it and it was so much enjoyed by Pope Leo XIII that he was used on posters promoting the product. The creator won a Vatican gold medal for creating it. In 1859, Italian scientist Paolo Mantegazza published a paper on the potential benefits of a little-studied South American plant called coca. Inspired by the findings, a French chemist named Angelo Mariani invented a potent tonic—Bordeaux wine spiked with six milligrams of coca leaf per ounce. He pitched the beverage as a digestif, apertif, energy booster, and general cure-all that was even safe for kids. Vin Mariani became a smash hit in Paris, then spread throughout Europe and the United States. This was due in part to Mariani’s aggressive marketing campaign, which involved commissioning famous artists to design advertisements. An endorsement from the pope didn’t hurt, either: The pontiff hailed the effects of fortifying himself with the tonic wine “when prayer was insufficient.” Throngs of celebrities sang the praises of Vin Mariani, along with presidents and physicians. A volume of Medical News from 1890 confirms that “no recognized medical preparation has received stronger endorsement at the hands of the medical profession.”

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