Kidsbeer, a Japanese soft drink bottled and formulated to look like beer, may soon be available throughout Europe, but watchdogs of underage drinking say they will fight any effort to ship it to the United States.Isn't this like the sparkling cider we get for the kids when we're toasting with champagne? No, not really. Champagne toasts are special celebratory events that you want to include kids in. But beer-drinking is the ultimate in routine.
Should we be upset about kidsbeer?
The last company that marketed a look-alike beer ended up with a public relations hangover. In 1995, Royal Crown drew the ire of Lee P. Brown, then the White House drug policy adviser, for its Royal Crown Draft Premium Cola, which also was in a brown bottle and beer-colored. The company agreed to change the soda's packaging, most notably its label, on which "draft" had been by far the largest word.Now, wait a minute! What about root beer? It's even called beer! Around here, we drink Sprecher root beer, which comes in a bottle nearly identical to Sprecher beer.
The Times article also mentions the candy cigarettes of old (and reminds us we can still buy them on the web). I certainly remember loving the candy cigarettes that were made of the same substance as white Necco wafers. It allowed kids to practice how to hold cigarettes, puff on them, and basically learn how to be an adult. I also remember bubble gum cigars — so you could learn how to be one of those charming guys who chomp on cigars. And there was a non-food play cigarette, a white cardboard cylinder that had a white power inside that would puff out looking like smoke if you blew into it right.
Despite all this intense smoking play, I never became a smoker. I'm sure there are many things I played with as a kid that did not lead to adult behavior. And I am positive no one ever gave me any law professor toys to get me started in this adult preoccupation of mine. Though I will say I had a toy typewriter. And we did play school all the time, though no purchased materials were involved. We actually wrote our own materials, designing workbooks and things!
Bonus nostalgia link to an old post: Playing Communion with white Necco wafers.