The Mysterious Case of the Allen’s Coffee Brandy Shortfall
Since 2009, sales of Allen’s Coffee Brandy (motto: If All Alcoholic Beverages Tasted Like This, You’d Be A Teetotaler) in Maine have been on a slow decline. No one knows why.
In fact, nobody knows why Mainers drink this stuff in the first place. Seems as if some university science types should be applying for grants to discover the cause. And maybe come up with a cure.
In any case, the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (motto: Keeping Liquor Prices Higher Than In New Hampshire’s Since 1820) has released sales figures for 2011 (motto: The Year Before This One), which show Allen’s selling fewer than one million bottles for the first time since 2006 (motto: The Year Of A Brief Increase In Good Taste).
In spite of that evaporation, Allen’s remains the largest selling liquor in the state, as it has been just about every year since Prohibition was repealed (one of the few valid arguments for its return). Last year, Mainers (and two curious tourists from Japan) bought 988,123 bottles of Allen’s. That comes to more than one for every adult in the state (plus two Japanese tourists). The price tag cam to $11,991,937, which – by coincidence – is the exact amount of money spent in Maine since 2005 attempting to repair the Medicaid computer system at the state Department of Health and Human Services (motto: Sorry, The Motto Program For The DHHS Computer System Is Currently Inoperable. Please Check Back Later. Much Later.)
Other top selling types of booze include nine vodkas in the top twenty-five, led by Orloff (over thirty thousand cases), which is understandable because it makes an excellent substitute for expensive gasoline.
Just kidding. In the average martini, gas is better.
Mainers also drink a lot of spiced rum and Canadian whisky (that’s the correct spelling, they leave out the “e” to keep the price down), which either has something to do with our heritage (who knew we were Caribbean) or our essential cheapness.
Over a few bottles of inexpensive hooch, those merry pranksters at the Maine Department of Transportation (motto: See, We Do More Than Lean On Our Shovels) came up with a parody advertisement for a public hearing planned for Islesboro. Then, they accidentally sent it off to the Bangor Daily News, where it was published on March 28. It said DOT staff would be on the island to listen with “fake sympathy” to residents. “Candid photos will be sneakily taken of awkward persons for our entertainment,” it said. “Life jackets and coffee brandy will be provided upon advance request.”
DOT officials have since apologized, since there will not be any coffee brandy available due to budget reductions.
I’ve always suspected that no normal person reads government notices in newspapers. And this case provides strong evidence that even proofreaders in newspaper ad departments don’t read them. Which is too bad, because if they’re all as entertaining as this one, we’ve been missing out on some first-rate humor produced with our tax dollars.
Fortunately, we’ll have further chances to catch the public-notice comedians in action, because the Maine Legislature seems unlikely to approve a proposed budget cut of $900,000 that would have put all those ads online instead of in expensive print.
The Bangor Daily says it’s reviewing its policies to make sure no more bogus notices slip through, but, honestly, how can anyone tell if an ad announcing that the Health and Human Services people will be in downtown Mattawamkeag next Tuesday at noon giving away money in a random fashion is a fake or just some revised policy?
Speaking of fakes, there’s one impersonating independent U.S. Senate candidate Angus King on Twitter. At first, this person tweeted under the name King_Angus. But the real King’s campaign complained to Twitter, which took the parody down, even though it was clearly marked as such, and satire is permitted on Twitter. So, the King Twit was forced to re-title the effort King_Angus_II, which is OK, because the 1st Amendment protects anything with Roman numerals in it. Which explains “Saw IV” and the CXXV Maine Legislature. Also, the MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMCLIX cases of Allen’s Coffee Brandy in the MDCCl milliliter bottle sold in Maine last year.
But back to the King campaign, which has to be reassessing its decision to go after King_Angus in the first place, since it attracted lots of attention to the tweets that they wouldn’t have otherwise received. Pretty serious flub for a guy who’s supposed to be good at running for office. You don’t see me going around attacking Twitter accounts like Al_Diamon_Is_An_Idiot.
I just quietly asked my wife to take it down.
She’s thinking about it.
Finally, we come to some shocking news from the U.S. Census Bureau (Motto: Eternally Grateful We Don’t Have To Publish Our Findings In Roman Numerals). According their calculations (which were verified through the DHHS computer system), Maine is the most rural state in the nation. The way the census folks determine that is to track sales of Allen’s Coffee Brandy by putting microchips on each bottle. Then, they follow the signal until the bottle is opened, usually on a snowmobile trail in the middle of nowhere. That led them to conclude that the two most rural counties in the state are Lincoln and Piscataquis, where one hundred percent of the residents are hayseeds. The least rural county is Cumberland, probably because so many of those people drink their Allen’s in cocktail lounges, instead of frozen cornfields.
The census numbers also showed Maine is losing population to Florida, which should come as no surprise. Allen’s is way cheaper there.
Al Diamon once made a Bloody Mary using Orloff vodka. It was right after that his wife put up that Twitter feed. Probably a coincidence. In any case, you can email him cocktail advice at email@example.com.