September 19, 2005


The NYT reports:
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.


bill said...

Upset about kids beer? No! Sounds like a great idea. Also loved candy cigarettes. Just looked on the ‘net and they’re still available; perhaps I’ll order a box for halloween treats.

I look at this way - both my parents smoked like chimneys, we always puffed away on candy cigarettes and cigars for Halloween, and I have never had any desire to try a real cigarette. Just too disgusting. On the otherhand, alcohol was much harder to come by and when we did obscene binge drinkng usually ensued. By the time I was of legal age, 19, I was pretty much burnt out on drinking and the appeal of bars was the live music.

I plan on having my daughter help with home brewing beer and wine. Hey, it involves both chemistry and physics, so it’s a learning experience. And like all cooking, there should be occasional sampling to understand how flavors mix. Probably make our own root beers and coke-like drinks, too; though owing to the higher sugar content these bottles are much more likely to explode during fermenting than beer.

Finally, two thumbs up for Sprecher! I had the pleasure of touring their first brewery back in 1986. One dollar involved half an hour of walking and all the beer we could drink. Nice guys, awesome beer. I’m no longer in their distribution area, but still find the opportunity to snag a case every other year or so.

ps: though since I'm all hopped up on allergy medication and am having a hard time read the wiggly letters, perhaps my comments on certain substances should be viewed as drug-induced rants.

Meade said...

ginger ALE

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

Mothers Against Drunk Driving needs to be banned as a hate group. Why we are the only civilized country that does not allow 18 year olds to drink ANYTHING with alcohol in it, is beyond me.

onalaska pb said...

My kids are post-Vatican II; I am post-WW II. Playing "church" and using Necco wafers for "Communion" was a playtime staple in my 1950s childhood. I've tried to explain it to my kids who grew up Catholic, but did not attend Catholic schools. It's just another "roll your eyes at Mom" occasion for them.

Paul said...

Necco wafers were the host of my neighborhood too.

Further, candy cigarettes were big and I never....oh, wait, I did.
I played with cap guns all the time too and I never....oh, wait

Bruce Hayden said...

The problem is that kids immitate their parents, in particular. Sure, it seems harmless, but the people I know with the biggest alcohol problems grew up in households where at least one parent drank.

I feel luckily that I never saw my parents drink alcohol until I was in college. I don't see a glass of wine or a beer occasionally a problem with, say, teenagers. But I am somewhat unnerved by my girlfriend's grandsons, 1 1/2 and 3 1/2, who immitate their mother who does smoke and drink in front of them (my girlfriend is even more upset by this - she too hid all alcohol consumption from her kids until they were teenagers).

amba said...

Bruce said, "The people I know with the biggest alcohol problems grew up in households where at least one parent drank."

Bruce, susceptibility to alcoholism is recognizably metabolic, genetic and hereditary. Very few people aren't going to have a drink at some point in their adolescence, if not earlier. It's at that point that metabolism already starts to separate the alcoholics from the nonalkies. People who metabolize alcohol "normally" become more impaired the more they drink, and so are not likely to want to drink a whole lot a lot of the time. Potential alkies feel BETTER and function BETTER with alcohol, even lots of it, in their system the very first time they drink. So it's likely not a matter of imitation.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Isn't there also a cultural component to alcoholism?

I think that families and societies that severely stigmatize alcohol (not a drop 'til 21, young man) create more alcohol abuse and alcoholism. Didn't consumption go up during Prohibition? In other western countries where children are routinely exposed to sensible alcohol consumption (wine with dinner), isn't there less abuse?

somross said...

When I buy root beer at the grocery store there is never a problem, but when it's birch beer, some people assume it's alcoholic and call over a checker who is of age. And ginger beer is even better than ginger ale.

Meade said...

You are right, Somross - ginger beer rules! Whether it's metabolic, genetic, or cultural, I love it, my name is LMeade and I am a gingerholic.

scandan40 said...

I am appalled by most of the comments I've read! Doesn't hte fact that we have 10 year olds running around looking and acting like they are 20 bother anyone but me. And along with the product we have the slogan "even kids cannot stand life unless they have a drink"!! I have an 8 and and a 10 year old. I struggle every day trying to convince them that they don't need drugs, alcohol, nicotine
or any other substance to "stand" life. What a horrible, sad comment.