Abstract: Very Dry and Flavorful: Prohibition, Wine, and the Virginia Dare Extract Company

Jeffrey S. Austin


Founded in the height of Prohibition, the Virginia Dare Extract Company exemplifies the efficacy of regulation as a promoter of scientific and technological advancement. An offshoot of Garret &amp; Company (1835), makers of Virginia Dare wine, the flavor company's 1923 incorporation also presents an alternative narrative to what Edward Behr called <em>The Thirteen Years That Changed America</em>. Most Prohibition scholarship focuses on the multitude of illegal methods used to circumvent the Eighteenth Amendment's moratorium on the production, distribution, and sale of intoxicating beverages. Garret &amp; Company utilized the Volstead Act's exemption on the production and use of alcohol for the extraction, dilution, and preservation of flavoring extracts and syrups. Among the twenty-one flavors of Virginia Dare Flavoring Secrets was a special creation of noted flavor chemist Bernard H. Smith, the first commercially available vanilla extract. Virginia Dare is presently a world leader in the development, manufacture, and distribution of flavor extracts; the story of its Prohibition Era use of alcohol to advance food science is testimony to the potential of progressive legislation.