It's always a little hard to see your heroes sell out. Most of us know we're getting old the day some rebellious rock song we liked as a kid gets used as the jingle in a shoe commercial. Or when Dr. Dre turns up in an ad selling us Dr. Pepper.
But selling out is an age-old tradition, and some icons from your history books were doing it long before musicians and athletes perfected the art ...
5Pope Leo XIII Advertised Cocaine-Laced Drinks
This was the first pope of the mass-communication era -- he was the first to have his voice recorded and his image captured on video. He served from February 20, 1878 to July 20, 1903.
Via Wikimedia Commons
Here he is, totally not expecting the Spanish Inquisition.
Vin Mariani was a cocaine-laced wine and a predecessor to Coca-Cola, developed by a French chemist who struck it rich after realizing there might be some money in the coca business. The surprisingly addictive drink attracted admirers/junkies such as Ulysses S. Grant, Queen Victoria, William McKinley, Jules Verne, Thomas Edison, Alexandre Dumas, Robert Louis Stevenson and a not-so-shocking-in-hindsight Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
As for Pope "Hollywood" Leo XIII, his addiction was so complete that he awarded the Mariani Company a Vatican gold medal "in recognition of benefits received from the use of Mariani's tonic" (i.e., for getting His Holiness coked out of his mind for a spiritual high not even found in faith).
"Jesus saved my soul, but coke saves my parties."
The Pope allowed his name and face to be featured on a Vin Mariani advertisement and, in a gesture of the recently defined dogma of Papal infallibility, reportedly carried a flask of the sweet stuff under his robes at all times. You know, for baptisms.
"This town is like a great big pussy ... just waiting to get fucked."
Did It Work?
Better than anyone could have guessed. Pope Leo XIII ended up becoming the oldest pope in history and the third longest serving. Also, that whole Coca-Cola industry still seems to be doing pretty well.