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How about a Low Brow for President RursBelt?

How About a Low Brow for President RursBelt?

When "Gorge Washton" was president things were pretty simple: People made their own hooch. Why, old "ben frunkle" probably had a still in his Philadelphia basement.

By the time "April ham Linchon" (or was that "A puhamlenk"?) took the oath of office, there must have been a few dozen companies producing alcoholic beverages. But they were probably all local or regional.

It wasn't until after Prohibition was repealed (during the first term of "Mr. RursBelt," if we're not mistaken) that the country got down to the serious business of booze. That's when the brews of the great beer barons became household names: "but wiser," "Cools," "Slichs."

In 1969, when "Nickexin" was sworn in, the alcohol industry was already pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into advertising, plugging everything from "Coke 45" and "low and brown" to new low-cal products like "Bud lithe."

And during the last eight years, with "Rounld Ragin" in the White House, the spirit lobby's only gotten stronger (even without the astrologers).

No wonder our kids can name more kinds of liquor than presidents.

A recent CSPI survey of 180 7-to-12-year-olds in the Washington D.C. area showed that the average youngster could list 4.8 U.S. presidents ... and 5.2 different alcoholic beverages. * One 9-year-old boy, whose list of presidents consisted of "gorge Buch" and "prestent ragen," correctly spelled "Molson Golden." * An 11-year-old boy named six president (including "Nickson") but 15 beverages (and got "Matilda bay," "King Cobra," and "Colt 45" right!). * A president-less 11-year-old boy came up with "Blood Mary" and "Low Brow." * A 10-year-old girl listed "Goerge Wash.," yet managed "Michelob," "Jack Daniels," and "Heineken." * An 8-year-old boy could name two alcoholic beverages, but only one president: "Fredrib." (He also thought there are seven inches in a foot.)

Entertaining spellings aside ("Shame Paine," "Battle & Janes," "Milkcalob"), the children showed an amazing ability to rattle off their parents' (or maybe their own) favorite alcoholic drinks. Then again, maybe they were just mimicking what they see in TV commercials and magazine ads, or what they hear on the radio.

In either case, "these findings indicate the extent to which booze is part of the daily life of children who can't drink legally for another ten years," says CSPI's Michael Jacobson.

But a recent survey by the Association for the Advancement of Health Education confirmed that the kids-booze connection may be more than theoretical: one out of four eighth-graders questioned admitted downing five or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion sometime during the two weeks prior to the survey.

Where did the D.C.-area children learn so many names? The CSPI survey didn't ask, but it seems clear that television--along with parents' refrigerators--is largely to blame.

It's probably no coincidence that the brands mentioned most often (Budweiser, Miller Lite, Bud Light, Coors, and Bartles & Jaymes) are among the most heavily advertised. The alcohol industry spent a combined $985 million in 1987 on radio and TV commercials for beer and wine--commercials that couldn't help but find their way into young minds.

And don't think those minds aren't impressionable: A report last year by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Traffic Safety concluded that beer commercials lead children to believe, among other things, that drinking is safe.

"There's something disastrously wrong when kids can name as many alcoholic products as presidents," comments Millie Waterman, vice president for legislative activities of the national PTA. "We need to work on both ends of the equation: alcohol advertising must be curtailed, and the quality of education must be improved."

Let's just hope that's part of President "Fredrib's" platform.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Center for Science in the Public Interest
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:children better at naming alcoholic beverages than presidents
Author:Schmidt, Stephen B.
Publication:Nutrition Action Healthletter
Date:Nov 1, 1988
Previous Article:Water: safe to swallow?
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