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What are some of the historical ways that people have employed to conceal alcohol on their person?

We have all heard of the prohibition of 1920 to 1933 in the United States and other countries. How is it that people were able to conceal alcohol on their persons? In this context, I would like to know the historical ways people did so prior to 1950. The question is not limited to the 20th century.

We know that hiding alcohol was done in bootlegs and books, are there other known methods that people historically used to hide booze on their bodies?

Bootleg (n.)

Look up bootleg at Dictionary.com "leg of a boot," 1630s, from boot (n.1) + leg (n.). As an adjective in reference to illegal liquor, 1889, American English slang, from the trick of concealing a flask of liquor down the leg of a high boot. Before that the bootleg was the place to secret knives and pistols. - The Online Etymology Dictionary

In a Book

In a Book

In a Flask in Your Boot

In a Flask in Your Boot

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    I feel like what you want will be conjecture. The formula is "name a body part/billowy garment and strap flask to it/hide flask in it." People went to a speakeasy because the establishment could transport large amounts concealed in storage containers that were inconspicuous. The risk was also less for the individual. I feel like your question of "on the person" would be better suited for modern times since alcohol is legal... Just not permitted in open containers in certain places. Insert "dig a hole at dark, bury keg, place bucket over tap, use the next day on the beach" scenario here. – BryceH Jan 31 '17 at 16:36
  • I don't know how 'historical' this is, but I know someone who smuggled some bourbon into Universal Studios in a faux sunscreen container. He said it made the Butterbeer in Harry Potter land extra good, and made some non-alcoholic fruit drinks far more interesting. – Chris Steele Jan 31 '17 at 19:49
  • Great article and again something I didn't know. – dougal 5.0.0 Feb 13 '17 at 5:06
  • I think a much better question would be ‘I've heard about such–and–such a place where alcohol was secretted during the 1920s Prohibition. How did they manage something like that?’ Unless, of course, someone made a Community Wiki list. – can-ned_food Mar 31 '17 at 3:04
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Check out this great article: 10 Ingenious Ways Booze Was Hidden During Prohibition

The old "alcohol-in-the-cane" trick ;)

Here are four examples from the list:

The Hollow Cane Trick

The Hollow Cane Trick

The Library of Congress labels this one "Woman seated at a soda fountain table is pouring alcohol into a cup from a cane, during Prohibition; with a large Coca-Cola advertisement on the wall, 2/13/22."

So-called "flask canes" or "tippling sticks" are still a thing, even in the booze-soaked wonderland of 21st century America. One site even targets veterans by putting seals from the various branches of the US military on top of the cane. War is hell, after all, so who are we to judge?

The Booze Mule Trick

The Booze Mule Trick

From the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, this circa-1920s photo depicts a man showing off his trick for transporting booze throughout Detroit. He reportedly only showed this to the press, for obvious reasons, and remained anonymous.

A shocking 75% of all the alcohol smuggled into the US during Prohibition crossed the border at the so-called "Windsor-Detroit Funnel," the nickname for waterways between Michigan and Ontario. By 1929, the second largest industry in Detroit, believe it or not, was "rumrunning," which netted $215 million per year.

The Bootlegger's Life Preserver Trick

The Bootlegger's Life Preserver Trick

Jennie MacGregor was arrested by federal agents in Minneapolis on April 10, 1924 for this audacious get-up that dispensed "wet goods." It was known, according to a note on the back of the original photograph, as a "bootlegger's life preserver." The New York Times purchased the photo 10 days later and published it in their weekly Mid-Week Pictorial under the caption "A Perfect 36."

(David Dunlap of the Times' "The Lively Morgue" blog guesses this was a reference to "Tennessee, the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, granting women’s suffrage?").

The Thigh Flask Trick

The Thigh Flask Trick

"Flask" might not be quite the right word for these behemoths. The original 1928 caption called them "tins" concealed by a "floppy overcoat." No word on how exactly these were held in place, but it they were full, they must have given this young flapper quite the workout.

  • Nice find. I took the liberty of adding some images and quotations from your linked article. Hope you don't mind and hope this will generate some interest with others. – Ken Graham Apr 8 '17 at 20:24

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