The Salt Lake Tribune reported that Idaho has banned a Utah Distillery that is making vodka and labeling it 5 Wives Vodka. Idaho regulators have decided not to stock an Ogden distillery’s Five Wives Vodka even though Utah liquor regulators allow the distillery to be distributed here in spite of the bottle’s label which has 19th century women in petticoats holding kittens near their lady parts. For a view of the photo you can see it here.
The distillery’s owner claims the label is not a spoof on Utah’s polygamy past, but actually an inspiration from a wagon traveling from Missouri several years before the Mormon pioneers. You can read the entire article here. That’s a nice try, but being that clueless about the labeling implications is like naming his vodka ”18 Ho’s” and putting a picture of a golf course on the label and saying it has nothing to do with women because they rarely golf. But maybe I am being too harsh, I mean if he really meant “5 wives” vodka to be about one man and five wives it would have come in gallon size only.
I was recently asked if the Vodka label offended us, and in fact I posted the question on our Facebook page. While I do doubt the owner on his proclaimed innocence of the polygamy distinction, or his use of kittens strategically placed, I found it hard to get too upset over. We have a healthy sense of humor when it comes to our culture. I think people are too politically correct and over sensitive to labels, if you know what I mean. Yeah, when I first saw it I thought, “another case of exploiting polygamy”. But after reading it I saw the irony in it all.
There is another brewery in Utah that makes “Polygamy Porter,” a beer that proclaims, “You can’t just have one.” They have been highly successful. The truth of the matter is I think Utah should own their polygamous past and make money on it like these clever marketers are trying to do.
We need a polygamous museum, and visitor center. I am sure if I got some of my daughters in some prairie dresses and had them churning butter in Brigham Young’s historical homes downtown, and selling our homemade bread and jam ( See our recipies blog posts for this yummy treat), we would make a killing.
I mean, people always come to Utah wanting to find a “Mormon” and the first thing they do is ask, “How many wives do you have?” I may think they were just ignorant and not bigoted, yet they are always surpised when I tell them the truth, as if they did not really believe their prejudice.
Of course I have to explain how I am not “really” a Mormon. How, they call the Mormons who are not active but not excommunicated, “Jack Mormons,” and I’m just a “Joe Mormon,” or a Joseph Smith Mormon. By then, they are pretty confused, as you probably are about right now. But I digress, the point is that the locals, especially the Temple recommended “real” Mormons, get very perturbed by such naivete. But I am suggesting instead of getting defensive, we all actually have some fun with it all.
I think turning it on its head and celebrating it with humor and dignity would be good. For example, Pennsylvania has done well with that with the Amish, and when I travel to southern Utah I see Indian tourist goods, often made in China, being pawned to eager tourists. I think a state that labels itself, “A Pretty Great State” would do well with pretty GREAT family representing it. (Though to get the pretty part they would have to insert Hugh Jackman’s mug in replacement of mine.) People associate Utah with polygamy anyway. I think they should just own it.
Perhaps they already have. That is why the 5 Wives Vodka is accepted here, while Idaho is just concerned they are going to get lumped into the polygamy equation. Idaho has always been like a sisterwife state anyway. I mean, Southeastern Idaho just as well be Utah. There is really two Idaho’s. Boise tends to be the mining, logging past, with the progressive high tech future, kind of a the little sister mix of Portland and Denver, but the east part of the state is like the sisterwife that married late. So, I am not sure if Utah or Idaho is more afraid of the polygamy equation.
If the distillery really wants to get distribution they just need to just call the vodka, “The 5 Ex-wives.” He could put a picture of Newt Gingrich on the back side of the label just to further distance himself from polygamy and I am sure it will be fine, plus Georgia will pick it up to distribute in a heartbeat, and Idaho can relax and enjoy a vodka label that meets its high moral standards.
Better yet, he needs to just educate himself on Idaho and Utah law. It is only that I call my wives, “wives” that I am eligible for felony conviction in. He needs to understand that the state is only trying to control the language. If he calls it “One Wife and Four Girlfriend” vodka he will have no problems. I know it doesn’t have the same ring to it, and seems a little inauthentic but the regulators will be happy.
Now I hope I did not offend too many with this post. Being sensitive to bigotry and hurtful language is important in today’s society, and being mean spirited is never acceptable; but in the end if we cannot laugh at ourselves we lose out on the importance of life. A good laugh is one of the best ways to “turn the other cheek.”