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October 08, 2006

History of Malt Liquor

Colt 45 ad

One of the most fascinating things I've read in weeks is...of all things...a history of malt liquor. Freelance writer Kihm Winship, who often writes about beer & brewing, wrote a great piece outlining malt liquor's origins, history, and marketing:

Mandingo Malt Liquor was marketed as a tribute to the "The Great Mandingo Empire of Mali, 1240-1400" in a can bearing a map of Africa. But students of popular culture might also find it evocative of the 1975 film starring Ken Norton, about a well-muscled slave who is drawn into the thrall, and eventually the boudoir, of his white master's wife. The film gave its name to the phenomenon of white women being attracted to black men, especially if the men are as good looking as Ken Norton. This message-laden potion was brewed by Mandingo Beer Inc, in the state of Pennsylvania, a long way from the kingdom of Mali.

Another Hall of Famer is Johnny 3 Legs, introduced in 1995 and contract-brewed briefly by Stroh. This fabulously blatant reference -- to a man whose penis is so large that it looks like a third leg -- was sent into the marketplace with a cover story regarding a three-legged rooster. Well, what can you say?

You can read the full essay here.

Posted by Chris Spurgeon at October 8, 2006 09:23 PM