During Prohibition, crime syndicates were re-distilling industrial alcohol to supply their speakeasies. In an effort to “poison the well,” the federal government responded by requiring manufacturers to add new, deadly compounds to the industrial alcohol mix, leading to the deaths of thousands nationwide. In an article at Slate.com, Deborah Blum writes:
It was Christmas Eve 1926, the streets aglitter with snow and lights, when the man afraid of Santa Claus stumbled into the emergency room at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital. He was flushed, gasping with fear: Santa Claus, he kept telling the nurses, was just behind him, wielding a baseball bat.
Before hospital staff realized how sick he was — the alcohol-induced hallucination was just a symptom — the man died. So did another holiday party-goer. And another. As dusk fell on Christmas, the hospital staff tallied up more than 60 people made desperately ill by alcohol and eight dead from it.… Read the rest