Image Copyright: Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection
By Murray Carpenter
It’s easy to think of caffeine and our national obsession with stimulants as a recent phenomenon, but it’s not. Consider this statement: “A chemical substance which stimulates brain, nerves, and muscles, is a daily necessity and is used by every single nation. When there is fatigue and the food is diminished such a stimulant is indispensable, and must be an ingredient of every reserve and emergency ration.” That’s from the 1896 Report of the Secretary of War, and more than a century later, the U.S. military is still trying to figure out how best to caffeinate soldiers. A handy result of this is that military scientists have conducted some of the most useful research on caffeine.