What an amazing product, restoring health, raising spirits, energising invalids, rousing the depressed, relieving the worried, reviving the fatigued… All natural products, rich old port, Liebig’s meat extract and coca leaf extract… Coca leaf?? No wonder it perked people up, even if they weren’t better, no doubt they thought they were… and is coca extract addictive, if so no doubt it helped sales no end!
Hall’s Wine was advertised as ‘The Great Restorative Nervine’ and apparently was originally called Hall’s Coca Wine; it did actually contain an extract of coca leaf, which is from the plant family ‘erythroxylaceae’ native to South America. Every bottle of Hall’s Wine contained about 1 grain (60mg) of coca leaf extract and was about 17 per cent alcohol. It was known that coca was habit-forming, but it was thought you would be sick before you could drink enough of it to become addicted!
It was advertised to cure anaemia, ‘Pale and tired, how can they enjoy the summer when they are so anæmic?‘ demanded on advert, and went on to say, ‘Poor blood means lack of energy, Hall’s Wine enriches the blood‘! Apparently, so the adverts said, doctors in their thousands were writing for supplies for ‘urgent cases’… I don’t suppose a glass of port with a spoonful of Bovril would be the same?!