A two-paragraph front-page story headlined "Mabel's" in The Chariton Leader of Oct. 6, 1931, caught my attention the other day and sent me off on a quest for more information. Ninety years later, some explanation is required. Here's the text of the article:
Mabel Willebrandt's highly disputed vine bricks made their first appearance in Chariton this week at the Ritz drug store. The bricks have found a brisk trade in Chariton and according to reports many people are following the well defined rules to prevent the grapes from fermenting and then, of course, becoming contrary to the law.
The carefully worded rules on the vine brick box read in a negative manner as they tell how to prevent the bricks from fermenting. The bricks have won Mabel Willebrandt unusual fame among newspapers of the world, her connection with the vine brick company following shortly after her resignation as Assistant Attorney General of the United States.
And enforce she did, with considerable zeal.
But during Willebrandt's tenure, California's young wine industry had come up with an innovative way to save itself --- Dehydrated grape juice packaged as small bricks that could be commercially marketed and then rehydrated at home (or elsewhere).