I’ve been watching Boardwalk Empire. An amazing TV show about the Prohibition Era in Atlantic City. It takes you through the beginning of Prohibition into the Great Depression. It’s a period piece with meticulous attention to detail. Everything from the clothes, to the history, to the language to the set design. A very well done show. Check it out.
Here’s a few interesting facts about Prohibition you may not have known. The rest are found in this article:
1. Prohibition had been tried before.
In the early 19th century, religious revivalists and early teetotaler groups like the American Temperance Society campaigned relentlessly against what they viewed as a nationwide scourge of drunkenness. The activists scored a major victory in 1851, when the Maine legislature passed a statewide prohibition on selling alcohol. A dozen other states soon instituted “Maine Laws” of their own, only to repeal them a few years later after widespread opposition and riots from grog-loving citizens (Kansas later instituted a separate ban in 1881). Calls for a “dry” America continued into the 1910s, when deep-pocketed and politically connected groups such as the Anti-Saloon League and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union gained widespread support for anti-alcohol legislation on Capitol Hill.
2. World War I helped turn the nation in favor of Prohibition.
Prohibition was all but sealed by the time the United States entered World War I in 1917, but the conflict served as one of the last nails in the coffin of legalized alcohol. Dry advocates argued that the barley used in brewing beer could be made into bread to feed American soldiers and war-ravaged Europeans, and they succeeded in winning wartime bans on strong drink. Anti-alcohol crusaders were often fueled by xenophobia, and the war allowed them to paint America’s largely German brewing industry as a threat. “We have German enemies in this country, too,” one temperance politician argued. “And the worst of all our German enemies, the most treacherous, the most menacing, are Pabst, Schlitz, Blatz and Miller.”
6. Winemakers and brewers found creative ways to stay afloat.
While many small distilleries and breweries continued to operate in secret during Prohibition, the rest had to either shut their doors or find new uses for their factories. Yuengling and Anheuser Busch both refitted their breweries to make ice cream, while Coors doubled down on the production of pottery and ceramics. Others produced “near beer”—legal brew that contained less than 0.5 percent alcohol. The lion’s share of brewers kept the lights on by peddling malt syrup, a legally dubious extract that could be easily made into beer by adding water and yeast and allowing time for fermentation. Winemakers followed a similar route by selling chunks of grape concentrate called “wine bricks.”