The Ginger Jake Blues
The 1896 Sears and Roebuck catalog offered Jamaica Ginger both as a flavoring as well as a "tonic" in 4 oz. bottles, that promised to deliver both pep and digestive health in addition to ginger flavor. However, most of the pep came from the product's 70% alcohol content. No wonder Jamaican Ginger extract was a favorite beverage flavoring during the prohibition era.
The Ginger Jake sold up until 1930 was fine, but in January of 1930, one of the manufacturers of the product added an adulterant called TOCP to the tonic. The Jake buzz came at a great cost when fifty thousand Ginger Jake users suffered varying degress of often irreversible paralysis due to the neurotoxic effects of the TOCP. Victims developed a characteristic high-stepping, foot flopping gait commonly known as the "Jake Walk", which became the inspiration for a number of popular songs at the time.
- p. 64, Ginger Cookies , The 1st American Cookie Lady: Recipes from a 1917 Cookie Dairy by Barbara Swell
Photo and more info here: Jamaican Ginger.
photo from: http://www.peachridgeglass.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/ChandlersPair_...