Most of the drinks on this list are real, but not all. Duff Beer is a fictional beer on the animated show, The Simpsons. This cartoon beer became so popular it was licensed so brewers could make it. Fictional drinks are the exception, but it’s one of the top 10 drinks that were banned.
10. Drink up, Comrade
The Soviet Union is no more and so is the Red Army, but vodka, which is “water” in Russian, will always be a part of the Russian culture. Red Army Vodka emerged in the 1920s during turbulent times in Russia and the company has always played up the association with the Russian military. Red Army Vodka took the association to the point that some of the bottles were shaped to look like rifle cartridges. This military imagery was taken a tad too far, at least in the United Kingdom, when Red Army Vodka made a bottle shaped like a Russian made Kalashnikov rifle. The AK-47 rifle is one of the most famous weapons of the 20th century and continues to be used by armies, insurgents, and terrorists around the world, so it’s easy to see why it wasn’t exactly the most popular drink. The rifle shaped bottle was a bridge too far for the regulators in the U.K. and in stereotypical understated British fashion, in 2014 they ruled it was “inappropriate.” The regulatory body went on to explain that it believed Red Army Vodka had created “an association with violent and dangerous behavior.” The vodka company was invited to change the packaging to something more appropriate, or at least less violent if it wanted to continue to sell this product in the U.K. Perhaps an AK-47 with the magazine removed would have satisfied the British censors?
Sometimes a company’s attempt to market a product makes a lot of us scratch our heads. What’s supposed to be appealing about dead whale beer? Is the image of a decaying whale carcass an edgy and appealing way to market a beer? What about putting ground up whale parts into a beer recipe? The brewery Steoji, a company in Iceland that came up with the beer, promised it would turn everyone who drinks it into Vikings. Iceland was one of the few countries still engaged in whale hunting in 2014 when this beer was conceived. Because whales have been hunted nearly to the point of extinction, the brewery received a fair amount of pushback about its unorthodox choice for a beer. The brewery tried to respond to the negative reaction by touting the whale beer as a healthy drink because of its high protein and low-fat content. This seems like a particularly tone-deaf way to respond to the legitimate criticisms that have been hurled at the attention-grabbing beer. Fortunately for the whales, this particular beer was only available for a limited time in 2014 during a traditional Icelandic festival. Even if this beer hadn’t been part of a limited run it’s hard to believe it could have escaped a ban, at least outside of Iceland.
8. Soft Drink Wishes
Pommac is a soft drink invented in Sweden in 1919. The sweet and golden colored carbonated beverage includes fruits and berries and is aged in oak barrels for 3 months. The exact recipe is still a closely guarded secret and perhaps this is part of the product’s enduring allure for some. The result of this secrecy is often described as a nonalcoholic alternative to champagne. The name “Pommac” is a combination of the French word for apple, “pomme” and, because of the use of the aging process with oak barrels, the “ac” in cognac. Although this Swedish drink seemed to have a loyal following, a champagne flavored soda seems like a bit of a head-scratcher. There are so many soft drink choices and this one just seems a bit unnecessary. There was enough of a market for it in the United States that the Dr. Pepper company decided to distribute the unique drink in the states from 1963 to 1969. Sales were not very good during this time, but what finally put an end to Pommac in America was a ban on the sweetener, a compound called sodium cyclamate. Although unavailable in America, this drink is still available at Swedish soft drink makers so if you really have a craving for this drink, you can probably get it shipped to you. There are so many soft drink choices and they seem to increase every day so it’s hard to imagine this one is on top of many peoples’ lists.
7. Nice Tottys
The British have been known to take their beer pretty seriously, but then they went too far. A female member of the House of Commons led a successful effort to get Top Totty’s Blonde Beer banned from the deliberative body’s official bar after it was on tap for only two days. Some politicians were concerned about the suggestive name and artwork of a beautiful woman in a bikini or a tight dress being featured on the brew’s label. Slater’s Brewery in Stafford, England defended its beer and marketing efforts as it should have. The United Kingdom, like most places, has its share of problems that politicians should be focused on instead of the names or images associated with popular drinks. To make an issue out of a beer offered at a pub into a political issue makes them look petty and out of touch with what most people care about. Top Totty’s Blonde Beer isn’t your cup of tea? So be it, but why spend any valuable time and energy on this kind of grandstanding? The British aren’t necessarily known for their sense of humor, but they are known for having a healthy respect for beer. Unfortunately, in this case, political correctness won out and the beer was banned. Hopefully, the publicity the incident generated only helped fuel sales for Top Totty’s in the U.K.
6. Chasing the Green Fairy
Absinthe is a liquor packing an interesting history that is far out of proportion to the merits of the drink itself. This not always well-understood alcoholic beverage is made from plants including Grande Wormwood, Green Anise, and Sweet Fennel. Some people who drink Absinthe describe it as having a taste similar to licorice. The green-colored liquor became popular in the 19th century when artists in Paris started to believe it had hallucinogenic qualities and helped their creativity. Artists who would partake sometimes referred to it as The Green Fairy or the Green Muse. Some have attributed hallucinogenic properties to a compound in some kinds of Wormwood called thujone, but this doesn’t actually cause hallucinations. So it won’t give you psychedelic visions, but it will get you drunk. However, many people say they don’t experience a hangover the next day after enjoying Absinthe. What a dream. France experienced a grape blight in the middle of the 19th century that severely impacted wine production. Drinkers in Europe in America found alternatives such as whiskey. Some also turned to Absinthe. The wine industry worked to undermine Absinthe by playing on people’s concerns about its supposed hallucinogenic effects and eventually the drink was banned in the U.S. until the early 21st century when British importers started selling it in the American market.
5. Get a Stiffy’s
Jaffa Cake Vodka is a thing. Jaffa cakes are a famous British snack cake or biscuit that was created in the 1920s. The name Jaffa comes from the former name of the port city of Tel Aviv in present-day Israel. Jaffa was the port through which the United Kingdom imported oranges. A Jaffa cake includes a layer of orange jam along with layers of cake and chocolate. Enough about Jaffa cakes even though they sound delicious. Stiffy’s vodka came out of a Jaffa Cake flavor that is said to capture the essence of the popular treat with hints of both orange and chocolate. This vodka can be mixed with a number of things including citrus and mangos, but some people prefer to drink it straight. The Stiffy’s name eventually ran afoul of the United Kingdom’s Portman Group Code for its “overtly sexual reference.” Stiffy’s Shots Ltd., the maker of the vodka with the naughty name defended itself by explaining that “Stiffy’s” referred to a person who was involved in creating the vodka. British authorities countered that even if the name wasn’t intended as a sexual reference it still deserved to be banned because it still violated the code. The company decided it had to bow to the pressure from the nanny state busybodies and changed the name of the vodka to Stivy’s. So much for the Brits’ stiff upper lip.
4. Sweet Home Bastard
Dirty Bastard is a Scottish Ale brewed in Michigan, but it was the State of Alabama that decided to ban it from its shelves. The state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control ruled that “bastard” is profanity, but this seems to be a pretty flimsy reason considering that Alabama allows the sale of alcoholic products named Fat Bastard and Raging Bitch so what’s the problem with Dirty Bastard? Alabama is an interesting case, because unlike most states in the union, a bout a third of the counties in the Cotton State are dry. So even though Prohibition was repealed almost a hundred years ago it appears some people still want to live in places where no alcohol can be purchased. This attitude could have contributed to a reactionary stance by some members of theAlcoholic Beverage Control. However, this still doesn’t explain the seeming inconsistencies surrounding the decision to ban Dirty Bastard Scottish Ale, but not the other products with similar names. Unfortunately this reminds people that government bureaucrats can be incompetent or even corrupt in discharging their duties. In the end it seems like First Amendment guarantees would trump the Alabama governments attempts to decide which names are and aren’t acceptable for the consumer. It would be much easier to let the consumer decide if they are offended by the name of the beer or not give the bureaucrats something more worthwhile to do with their time.
3. Stay Phrosties
If you’re a New Yorker and a drinker you’re not into politics you may still have heard of Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer. He’s the politician who got the high alcohol slashes banned in the Empire State. These colorful concoctions briefly became a bit of a social media sensation. Even though deliveries of Phrosties from the renegade mixologists were stopped there are a number of online recipes that can help you fill in the void. The drink isn’t hard to make and consists of the following ingredients: vodka, Kool Aid flavors of your choice, ice and sugar. The exact proportions of the ingredients is up to you, but a blender is used to mix everything and turn the ingredients into a colorful, slushy beverage you can make and enjoy at home. Some recipes insist on Everclear, a brand of grain alcohol, but it’s really depends on your own tastes. In addition to vodka and grain alcohol some people recommend rum as the main ingredient. Many people apparently choose to pour the drink into juice bottles, but any glass or cup will do. A lot of the buzz around this drink has to do with its outlaw persona. Being banned in New York was probably the best thing that could happen to Phrosties. Instead of fading away like just another instagram flash in the pan this sweet, slushy drink will live forever as a recipe available to anyone with an internet connection.
2. It’s Always Time for Duff
Duff Beer is somewhat unique in the annals of beer culture because it’s made up. It was made up by the creators of the long running animated television show The Simpsons. On the show Duff Beer functions as a send up of mass marketed American beers like Budweiser and even has a hunky mascot who periodically appeared in episodes promoting the beverage to residents of Springfield. A real Duff Beer was first sold in 2013 at Universal Studios Florida. Fittingly, the beverage was offered at the park’s Springfield area so park goers could sample Homer Simpson’s favorite brew. 20th Century Fox, the producer of The Simpsons, started selling real Duff Beer in 2015. It was licensed for sale in Chile to combat brandjacking – the practice of individuals using a brand to sell products without authorization. The beer has since spread to Europe where it is brewed and sold in a number of countries. Although this fictional beer became popular in real life it wasn’t all smooth sailing. The sale of Duff Beer was banned in Australia after it was found to have violated the advertising code. Authorities ruled that the brewery used advertising that was likely to appeal to children. This seems like a bit of a stretch because if you accept a beer which originated on a cartoon then what would be appropriate adverting? Would the brewery have to ignore The Simpsons and the cartoon mascot that appeared on the show?
1. This is the Place for Vodka?
When you think Utah you probably don’t think vodka, but a distillery in Ogden, Utah produces a popular vodka called Five Wives Vodka. The state’s anthem is “Utah…this is the place.” This is a sentiment that seems to let people decide for themselves what Utah is a place for. Five Wives Vodka thinks its a good place for a vodka distillery. According to the story this spirit is produced from water sourced from a spring that is only accessible on foot so the coveted water has to be delivered to the distillery five gallons at a time. This story sounds a little too good to be true and smacks of the kind of legend companies like to create to give their products a notoriety it hasn’t really earned. The name “Five Wives” is a reference to polygamy – a now outlawed practice some Mormons lived by more than a century ago. Polygamy is the practice of having multiple spouses and was common in many cultures throughout history, but has been frowned upon by most people in the West. Idaho liquor authorities tried to ban the sale of Five Wives Vodka, but the distillery sued Idaho for trying to disrupt its legal business for no good reason. The company has also taken some heat for its marketing campaign that features five attractive women wearing 19th century period dresses. It’s an obvious attempt to use the “sex sells” rule of advertising, but should it be controversial at this point?