Drug scares are always turning up all over the world, but sometimes you find a certain hysteria over fake drugs which to an outsider is pretty hilarious. Even today we see urban legends such as getting high off raw sewage or listening to certain radio wavelengths. And though these are going viral on social media, they never really reached the same outright silliness of that time in the 1960s when people were certain smoking banana peels was a way to get high.
During the hippie scene of the 60s, rumors started to circulate of the mythical banana narcotic. Young people were always looking for new ways to get high, mostly driven by LSD and the growing use of pot. But those drugs cost money and hippies never really had any money. As you know banana scrapings are pretty cheap so that is why millions of people fell for the tale of banana drugs.
The rumor apparently started in a fake story published by The East Village Other, which was a popular magazine of the time where the editors regular discussed the inner workings of LSD. The thought was bananas contain serotonin like LSD so they must also get your brain high. The article kind of created the race of finding natural highs, and as a result hippies eagerly started to spread the concept of smoking banana peels.
And though it is completely true the bananas contain serotonin, it is not enough at all to get someone high. The levels needed to cross from blood to brain need to be quite high, but nevertheless, the rumor spread extremely quickly.
The real craze started when the lead singer of the band Country Joe and the Fish handed out over 500 banana joints at a concert. Once this happened, there were recipes being published all over the hippie culture magazines on how to prepare your bananas to be smoked. Definitely, this will not be the last drug hoax we see, but it may have been the biggest.