Prohibition Made Walgreens

Last week on vacation I checked out the American Prohibition Museum in Savannah, GA. The idea that our boozy country banned the production, transportation, sale, and transfer of alcohol by constitutional amendment for thirteen years amazes me.

And the list of things that prohibition intentionally or unintentionally caused is interesting as well.

Federal Income Tax

Not exactly true, as we had our first income tax in the Civil War. However, it was temporary, and the income tax that we now know was enacted in 1913 because…

Medicinal Marijuana…I Mean Alcohol, or How Prohibition Made Walgreens

Foreshadowing the medicinal marijuana escape hatch more popular before so many states legalized marijuana, people started developing ailments only alcohol could cure.

And just like that, Walgreens was off to the races.

I checked to see if Prohibition making Walgreens was an exaggeration (like the income tax point above), and it looks like it wasn’t. Daniel Okrent’s excellent book, Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition, touches on it. So does this New York Time’s article.

Walgreens’ explanation for its growth? The introduction of the malted milk shake in 1922.

Bad People

Prohibition helping the mob is a well-worn story, but according to the museum, it also helped the Klan re-emerge.


Moonshiners who needed to outrun the law were the origins of NASCAR.

As moonshiners expanded their delivery radius, they needed to drive faster than the cops. They souped up their Ford V-8’s, ironic given that Henry Ford was a teetotaler who didn’t allow his employees to drink, and eventually started to race in the 1930’s.

Nascar is great and everything, but that and Walgreens in exchange for an income tax, the mob, and the KKK doesn’t seem like a fair trade.

Suggested Further Reading

Ulysses S. Grant – The forgotten greatness of a real American hero who more than anyone except Lincoln kept the country together.

Best Presidential Biographies – My colleague and I share a detailed list of recommendations for the best biography to read on each president, including some clunkers to avoid.