Would You Believe...

  1. In Pennsylvania the tax on wine and spirits is called the Johnstown Flood tax because it was imposed in 1936 to raise funds to help the city of Johnstown rebuild and recover from a devastating flood that year. The city of Johnstown quickly rebuilt and recovered but the tax still continues. It currently costs the taxpayers of the state over $160,000,000.00 each year. 36
  2. Of Texas' 254 counties, 79 are still completely dry seven decades after the Repeal of Prohibition. Many of the remaining counties are "moist" or partially dry. Some permit one form of alcohol beverage but not another, some prohibit on-premise consumption (except for private clubs), some permit (believe it or not) on-premise but no off-premise consumption, and some have other strange variations, often directly across the street from each other. 35
  3. An Attorney General of Kansas issued the legal opinion that drinking on an airliner was forbidden by state law while the plane was in airspace over "dry" Kansas. He said that "Kansas goes all the way up and all the way down," His opinion was widely ridiculed in legal circles. 34
  4. Vikings used the skulls of their enemies as drinking vessels. 1
  5. Chicha, an alcohol beverage which has been made for thousands of years in Central and South America, begins with people chewing grain and spitting into a vat. An enzyme in saliva changes starch in the grain to sugar, which then ferments. 2
  6. William Sokolin paid $519,750.00 for a bottle of 1787 vintage wine which supposedly had been owned by Thomas Jefferson, then later accidentally knocked it over, breaking it and spilling the precious contents on the floor. 3
  7. Little Red Riding Hood
  8. Of all the countries with armies stationed in Bosnia, only the U. S. forbade its soldiers from consuming alcohol. 4
  9. An award-winning adaptation of Little Red Riding Hood was withdrawn from a recommended reading list by the school board in Culver City, California, simply because the heroine had included a bottle of wine in the basket she brought to her grandmother. 5
  10. A 29 year old woman who was four months pregnant sought help from police after being beaten by her husband. Upon smelling alcohol on her breath and determining that she was legally intoxicated, they arrested her and charged her with felony child abuse. 6
  11. Many high school cafeterias in Europe serve alcohol to their students who choose to drink. 7
  12. McDonald's restaurants in some European countries serve alcohol because otherwise parents would be less willing to take their children to them. 8
  13. Vintage McDonald's Restaurant
  14. The entire production of kosher wine, including cultivation of the grapes, must be performed by Sabbath-observant Jews and it remains kosher only if opened and poured by an orthodox Jew. 9
  15. Flying While Intoxicated - Some birds haven't learned when to say when. Thousands of Waxwing birds in Sweden became intoxicated by gourging on fermenting berries. About 50 lost their lives by flying into nearby windows.
  16. Some pregnant women have actually become frantic upon realizing they had inadvertently eaten salad that had wine vinegar dressing, fearing their children would be born suffering from fetal alcohol syndrome. 11Of course, wine vinegar, being vinegar, contains no alcohol.
  17. National Institutes of Health
  18. Federal agencies and departments of the U. S. Government actually discourage public knowledge of the health benefits associated with moderate drinking. For example, the National Institutes of Health funded a study that found moderate drinkers to be less likely to suffer heart disease, but refused to allow the Harvard researcher to publish the results because it considered them "socially undesirable."12
  19. Early recipes for beer included such ingredients as poppy seeds, mushrooms, aromatics, honey, sugar, bay leaves, butter and bread crumbs. 13
  20. According to the federal Center for Substance Abuse prevention, "For kids under twenty-one, there is no difference between alcohol and other drug use and abuse." Incredibly, it makes no distinction between a self-reliant 20 year old toasting his love at their wedding reception with a sip of champagne and a drug-addicted 20 year old doing crack cocaine! 14
  21. US Department of Health and Human Services
  22. Men in the U.S. who drink alcohol receive about 7% higher wages than do abstainers, according to data from the national Household Survey on Drug Abuse (United States Department of Health and Human Services). Women who drink receive about three and one-half percent higher wages than do abstainers. 15
  23. The U.S. has the strictest youth drinking laws in Western civilization. 16
  24. While in some countries the penalty for driving while intoxicated can be death (yes, death), in Uruguay intoxication is a legal excuse for having an accident while driving. "Please believe me officer, I really was drunk." 17
  25. Suppose you overbuy your favorite alcohol beverage for a big party and your brother agrees to take a bottle or two and reimburse you. That seems reasonable, but anywhere in the United States, doing that would make you guilty of committing a punishable crime... selling alcohol without a license. 18
  26. There are no ordinary drinking establishments in Utah; full alcohol service is available only to dues-paying members of private social clubs or a limited number of restaurants that can't advertise, display, or mention the availability of alcohol beverages. And it is a crime, punishable with as much as six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, for anyone other than a licensed dealer to bring any alcohol in any quantity into the state. 19
  27. It's illegal in Utah to advertise drink prices, alcohol brands, to show a "drinking scene," to promote happy hour, to advertise free food, or for restaurants to furnish alcohol beverage lists unless a customer specifically requests one. 20
  28. Although it is commonly believed that drinking by those under the age of 21 is illegal throughout the United States, in at least19 states consumption by such individuals is not specifically illegal. Additionally, alcohol consumption is generally permitted at any age for religious purposes or under parental supervision at home. 21
  29. The United States has the highest minimum drinking age in the entire world. 22
  30. Drug Free School Zone
  31. Joe McKnight, school superintendent in Laurel County, Kentucky, was forced to resign after acknowledging that he had transported beer and rum, which he had purchased for his own personal use, in a truck that happened to be owned by the school district. While he had not broken any law, McKnight was in violation of the district's Alcohol-Free Schools policy. 23
  32. Among the Abipone people of Paraguay, individuals who abstain from alcohol are thought to be "cowardly, degenerate and stupid." 24
  33. Gold!? Kinpaku-iri sake contains flakes of real gold. While this adds a touch of extravagance, it doesn't affect the flavor at all. 25
  34. Grandpa's ashes? The Uape Indians of the upper Amazon in Brazil mix the ashes of their cremated dead with casiri, the local alcohol beverage. All members of the deceased's family, young and old, then drink the beverage with great reverence and fond memories. There's no report of how this might effect the taste. 26
  35. The Aztec of Mexico used a "rabbit scale" to describe degrees of intoxication. It ranged from very mild intoxication (a few rabbits) to heavy drunkenness (400 rabbits). 27
  36. Proportion of U.S. pop, by education, who consumed alcohol in the previous month
  37. The highest price ever paid for distilled spirits at auction was $79,552 for a 50-year-old bottle of Glenfiddich whisky in 1992. 28
  38. "Fat Bastard Chardonnay" is a French wine label. 29
  39. The more educated people are, the more likely they are to drink. 30
  40. Research evidence from around the world generally shows that countries with higher alcohol consumption have fewer drinking problems than those countries where consumption is relatively low. 31
  41. Abstention is much more common in the US than in any other Western country. 32
  42. Proportion of Abstainers
  43. Abstention in the US is closely associated with social status. The lower the social class, the higher the abstention. 33
  44. Proportion of Abstainers by Class and Gender


  • 1. French, Richard V. The History of Toasting, or Drinking of Healths in England. London: National Temperance Publication Depot, 1882, p. 46.
  • 2. Siegel, H. A., and Incardi, J. A. A Brief History of Alcohol. In: J. A. Incardi and K. McElrath (eds.). The American Drug Scene. Los Angeles, California: Roxbury, 1995.
  • 3. Barr, Andrew. Drink: A Social History of America. New York: Carroll & Graf, 1999, p. 85.
  • 4. Alcohol in Moderation, 1996 (November/December), 5(3).
  • 5. Barr, p. 275.
  • 6. New York Times, January 22, February 3 and 5, and June 4, 1990.
  • 7. Brooke, James, School Spreads Alcohol Policy to Wine Sips in Paris. New York Times, May 31, 1998, p. NE12.
  • 8. Barr, p. 124.
  • 9. Barr, A. Drink. London, England: Bantam, 1995, pp. 337-338.
  • 11. Barr, p. 159.
  • 12. "Conflicts of Interest and Political Science," Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 1997, 50, 627-629.
  • 13. Braudel, F. Capitalism and Material Life, 1400-1800. New York: Harper & Row, 1974, p. 167.
  • 14. Barr, pp. 272-273.
  • 15. Zarkin, Gary A., et al. Alcohol use and wages: New results from The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Journal of Health Economics, 1998, 17, 53-68.
  • 16. Barr, p. 268.
  • 17. William J. Doody, Ph.D., personal communication, June 9, 1999.
  • 18. Perdue, Lewis. e-Bay, Yahoo!, and other internet auction sites run afoul of direct shipping laws, Wine Trader, 1999, T(1), p. 15.
  • 19. Alcohol restrictions concern olympic officials. (www.jointogether.org/sa/wire/news/reader/jtml?Object_ID=2593210)
  • 20. Associated Press, August 6, 2001.
  • 21. International Center for Alcohol Policies. Drinking Age Limits. Washington, DC: International Center for Alcohol Policies, 1998. Report No. 4.
  • 22. International Center for Alcohol Policies. Drinking Age Limits. Washington, DC: International Center for Alcohol Policies, 1998.
  • 23. Associated Press, June 4, 1999.
  • 24. Washburne, C. Primitive Drinking. New York: College and University Press, 1961, p. 86.
  • 25. Frost, G. and Gauntner, J. Sake. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge, 1999, p. 75.
  • 26. Felton, B., and Fowler, M. The Best, the Worst and Most Unusual. New York: Galahad, 1994, p. 219.
  • 27. Limon, E. M. Tequila: The Spirit of Mexico. New York: Abbeville Press, 1998, p. 180.
  • 28. Guinness World Records. Guinness World Records 2000. London, England: Guinness World Records Ltd., p. 61.
  • 29. Click, J. Bastards are Here! Wine Trader, T(3), 1999, 57-58.
  • 30. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, Subtance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, 1997. Washington, DC: DHHS, 1998; Wright, J. W. (Ed.) The New York Times 2000 Almanac. New York: Penguin, 1999, p. 398.
  • 31. Heath, D. B. Alcohol control policies and drinking patterns: An international game of politics against science. Journal of Substance Abuse, 1988, 1, 109-115; Heath, D. B. Beverage Alcohol in Developing Regions: An Anthropoligical and Epistemological Perspective on Public Health Issues. In: Grant, M. (Ed.). Alcohol and Emerging Markets: Patterns, Problems, and Responses. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Taylor & Francis, 1998.
  • 32. Holder, H. D. Alcohol and the Community: A System Approach to Prevention. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998, p.38.
  • 33. Holder, H. D. Alcohol and the Community: A System Approach to Prevention. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.
  • 34. Hendricks, M. Liquor laws live up to state motto. Kansas City Star, 4-7-03, B1. (The state's motto is "To the stars.")
  • 35. Mead, J. The wine curmudgeon. Wine Trader, P(1), n.d., p. 8.
  • 36. State liquor tax has origins in 1936 Johnstown flood. Associated Press, 11-25-01.)

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