Canned Heat — On the Road Again– to Poison Booze 1920s

Canned Heat — On the Road Again– to Poison Booze 1920s


Almonte Gazette 1924

When prohibition was on, people still needed a drink. Sometimes you could get bootleg alcohol, but sometimes you had to improvise from what you could get legally. There are quite a few prohibition-era songs about alcohol substitutes. Canned heat was a term for the cans of sterno or other portable heating fuels that you see around campgrounds. People drink it, usually strained through a sock or some kind of cloth. It will get you drunk and also maybe kill you or cause you to go blind. It still goes on today, but drinking Canned Heat was pretty common during the prohibition years after the passage of the Volsead Act or the 18th amendment in 1920 until its repeal under the 21st amendment in 1933.


Like Sterno Fuel, another form of alcohol that was available legally during Prohibition was called Jake. Jake was a ginger extract from Jamaica that was sold for medicinal purposes but was approximately 70% alcohol. When drank in large quantities, another chemical in Jake caused deterioration of the spinal cord. In the 20s and 30s, Jake drinkers were immediately identifiable when people spotted a telltale shuffle in their walk cause by semi-paralysis in the legs.

Image result for canned heat 1920s liquor


Bad batch of “dehorn” alcohol killed 28 hobos on Skid Road






Clipped from

  1. Daily News,
  2. 29 Dec 1923, Sat,
  3. Other Editions,
  4. Page 7


Clipped from

  1. The Leader-Post,
  2. 27 Jul 1926, Tue,
  3. Page 1




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About lindaseccaspina

Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda was a fashion designer, and then owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa on Rideau Street from 1976-1996. She also did clothing for various media and worked on “You Can’t do that on Television”. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off on American media she finally found her calling. She is a weekly columnist for the Sherbrooke Record and documents history every single day and has over 6500 blogs about Lanark County and Ottawa and an enormous weekly readership. Linda has published six books and is in her 4th year as a town councillor for Carleton Place. She believes in community and promoting business owners because she believes she can, so she does.

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