Dear Foodie: Is Illegal Moonshine Better?

Dear Foodie,

While visiting a bar in Chicago the other night, I noted that “moonshine” in different flavors was on the drink menu. Being from Kentucky, I promptly ordered a “moonshine” drink. It just didn’t do anything for me so I went back to my usual – a bourbon on the rocks. What is the deal on “legal” moonshine?

Dear “put a bag over your head and go get the real stuff”,

While the quality could have been compromised by many things, you are likely experiencing a common culinary reaction. Behavioral scientists study rats and mice because when it comes right down to it, they discovered that we are not all that much smarter than those critters after all. (Note that scientists first made this observation – takes one to know one?) We follow emotions more than the direction given by our considerably larger brains. In other words, we tend to eat what we THINK tastes the best or on occasion what we think will lead to better health (to make up for the moonshine and bourbon you had the night before). For instance, studies show that if you put two identical tomatoes in front of Susie Consumer, lie and say one of them is organic, she will say the organic one tastes better. With moonshine, there is a piling on effect to that theory: If you say something is illegal, it will likely be more fun and in the case of food or a few other activities we shall not mention… taste better. It is the whole premise upon which the Las Vegas slogan “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” Go ahead and have the bourbon and just know that the legal status of moonshine is and has always been complicated. But, come back to Kentucky, put a bag over your head and let me drive you toward the east where there is still “real” moonshine. Dear Foodie has connections!

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