Did Prohibition Prohibit Cider? – An Exploration

prohibition title slide

This is the first post in a series based on my talk, “Did Prohibition Prohibit Cider?”


American cider’s recent resurgence has people asking if it was so popular before, why did it go away?

Most cidermakers will say that Prohibition killed cider. Prohibition is the popular name for the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution which outlawed alcohol production. The story generally says cider was America’s drink, but Prohibition suddenly ended that.

Cider Prohibition Statements

A quick Google search turns up thousands of hits saying similar things.

It wouldn’t be until the 1990s, 60 years after repeal, that cider began its current recovery.

This timeline certainly suggests Prohibition ended, or at least interrupted, our cider culture. But it’s not a very satisfying answer. Prohibition didn’t affect our taste for beer, wine, or spirits. So what was going on? Did Prohibition really prohibit and inhibit cider?

Over the coming weeks we’ll explore how Temperance, pests, new apple products, changing popular tastes, market competition, and Prohibition influenced American cider culture.

I hope you’ll come along!

NEXT TIME: Early Americans attempt to keep drinkers in their proper place.


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A Sparkling Cider Surprise

I got home from work, eagerly selected a recently acquired sparkling cider, and walked a few steps into the kitchen. I untwisted the cage, but before it was over the cork, the bottle exploded and a three-foot stream of cider shot straight out of the bottle.

Photograph Not Available
(but it did look fantastic)

By the time it was done most of the cider was all over the counter and floor, leaving only this


Our recent heat wave had primed the bottle. Besides not diffusing it by chilling, my opening technique may have been a little hasty. I should have done this:

Or perhaps next time I’ll combine my interest in cidering and fencing and do this:

There are certainly enough swords and cider laying around my house to perfect my technique.



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Upcoming Prohibition Presentation at the 2018 PA Cider Fest

PA-Cider-Fest-HomeI’m pleased to be presenting at the 3rd annual PA Cider Fest on June 23rd. This year, I’m offering my talk, “Did Prohibition Prohibit Cider?”, at 12:30.

Prohibition is often blamed for abruptly ending American cider, yet it didn’t change our taste for beer, wine, or spirits. Find out how Prohibition did and did not change our cider culture.

Hope to see you there!



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That’s Not What I Ordered

I bought Johnny Appleseed and the American Orchard: A Cultural History, but I got this:


Am I on a list now? Who am I kidding? I’m already a member.

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Upcoming Talk at the Bachmann Publick House

On April 7th, from 5 to 7 pm I’m offering my “Cider: Pennsylvania’s Once (and Future?) Favorite” followed by a cider tasting at the restored 1753 Bachmann Publick House in Easton, PA.


The program is $8 for Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society members and $12 for non-members. For more information check this out.

Hope to see you there!



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Cider History Round-Up: 19 March 2018

Cider and alcohol history dropping around the internet.

Aspall cider snapped up by Molson Coors after eight generations of family business

How Did the Modern Apple Come About

How to Prevent Drunkenness, 1612

How Cheese, Wheat and Alcohol Shaped Human Evolution


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Pommel Press – 24 February 2018

It’s been a busy few weeks here. Below are a few highlights.

Vinetum Britanicum PressThe Cider Guide, run by Eric West, is a weekly round-up of cider news and notes. He has generously shared several of Pommel’s recent posts.

I was honored to be asked to contribute a cider history timeline to the refreshed Pennsylvania Cider Guild website.

Brian Dressler, of Dressler Estate, and I were interviewed for the article,  MODERN CIDERING: Try your hand at making cider — or — enjoy some of the locally-made refreshment. It’s funny that it’s about modern cidering when all I really talked about was historic cidering.

I’m please to announce that the Pommel Cyder blog has cracked the top 40. The blog is ranked 22nd at the Top 40 Cider Blogs. Our thanks to Feedspot for including us and to Casey Kasem who reminded me every Saturday to keep my feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

Cider BlogsLastly, I’m in the middle of setting some cider history roadshows. I’ll post dates as they’re set.




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