At First I Eschewed the Boycott Against Sam Adams. Now, Count Me In.

OK.  There will be no more Sam Adams at my house.

You may remember that last week I posted an article reporting that Samuel Adams, the Boston-based beer company, in its July 4 commercial had dropped any reference to the Creator from the Declaration of Independence.  Conservatives immediately began murmuring the word “boycott,” and the brewer offered a fairly lame excuse citing constraints imposed by the Beer Institute Advertising Code.

I was un-persuaded by the company’s apology for their re-write of history, and fairly miffed about their insensitivity toward people of faith.  But since I don’t drink beer (it makes me puke) and I only buy it for company a few times a year, my meager personal protest amounts to squat in the corporate giant’s annual budget.

But I can tell YOU about it; and you can tell your neighbor….

I can’t say I love grassroots citizen action.  I mean, sure, people should stand for something; but so many folks are too quick to come out swinging, sniffing the air for the slightest hint of corporate malfeasance, so that they can pull the “Boycott!” banner out of storage.  Boycott, it seems to me, is only effective if it is rarely applied, and only for the most egregious corporate sins.

But it was a reader who finally stoked the flame of consumer unrest for me.  She reminded me of an offense just a few years ago which, combined with their Independence Day faux pas regarding the faith of our Founding Fathers, incites my wrath.

Here’s the story:

In 2002, Boston Beer Company Chairman Jim Koch (pronounced “Cook”) was the so-called Grand Marshall of the “Sex for Sam” stunt, a radio contest on WNEW-FM in Manhattan.  Syndicated radio shock jocks Opie and Anthony staged a contest, challenging couples to engage in sexual activity in risky public places:  in taxis, in ATM vestibules, in the Disney Store and—wait for it!—in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.   Couples earned points (5, 10 or more) for each tryst in a public place.  The couple who succeeded in engaging in sexual intercourse in St. Patrick’s Cathedral were awarded 25 points for their effort.  The only way to earn more points was to engage in coitus at Koch’s feet—for which enterprising exhibitionist couples earned 30 points.

The fall-out from the show was far-reaching.  Opie and Anthony were fired by WNEW.  The following week, Jim Koch issued a public apology to “all those upset or offended” by the broadcast. “We were not in control of the program,” he claimed, “and it was never our intention to be part of a radio station promotion that crossed the line.”

But the investigative website The Smoking Gun put the forced apology into perspective:

Of course, this was the third time Koch’s company sponsored the “Sex for Sam” contest. And while acknowledging that his “presence on the show was a lapse in judgment, a serious mistake,” Koch has avoided describing just what he was doing in Opie and Anthony’s studio.

Along with handing out bottles of Sam Adams to contestants who stopped by the studio to take a break from having sex in cabs, ATM vestibules, and the Disney Store, Koch also served as the contest’s official “celebrity” voyeur. That meant if couples had sex in front of Koch, they were awarded 30 points (by comparison, sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral was worth 25 points).

According to the audio clips you’ll find below, Koch watched as five couples attempted to obtain those 30 points (only two, um, succeeded). While Koch said he felt embarrassed for the three couples who failed to complete the act before him, he told Opie and Anthony that the competitors were, “awesome, all of ’em, better teams. The quality gets better every year.”

Go to the website to hear those audio clips, and to read the rest of the story.

Anyway, Koch clearly hasn’t mended his ways.  My husband, who has sometimes enjoyed a Sam Adams in the evening, is disappointed but resolute:  We’re done with these guys.  My readers suggest a local micro-brew.

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  • I suggest a Guinness, not just because it’s a superior brew, but because it’s a superior company whose founding family has exhibited superior Christian virtues since 1759. I explain on my blog:

    • William

      I’m so glad to hear that, as I am Catholic, and have been wearing a Guiness Ball cap around for as long as I can remember. I also happen to be Catholic. Funny thing is I don’t drink.

    • Sarx Discuss

      Guinness for years would fire any employee who married a Catholic.

      • You will need to document that because it doesn’t jibe with any of the sources I’ve read. In fact, the company was very tolerant of Catholics and even worked with parish priests in the poorest neighborhoods of Dublin in the 19th century.

        • Sarx Discuss

          It’s from Bottle of Guinness Please : The Colourful history of Guinness, by David Alan Hughes.

  • Michele Quigley

    If you can get it where you live I recommend Yuengling Lager. I like Guinness too but Yuengling is a good sub (better in my opinion) for Sam Adams.

  • Oh how repulsive. I had heard of the Opie and Anthony stunt but had no idea Sam Adams beer was involved. They are through with me too. I agree with Michelle below; Yuengling is good.

  • Christine~Soccer Mom

    I hadn’t any idea that Sam Adams was behind that awful stunt. I was willing to ignore the stupid ad, but this…? No way.

  • Law

    So you’re boycotting a beer you don’t drink because of a publicity stunt that happened 11 years ago that didn’t even involve you?

    It’s really gonna suck for you when you realize your local micro-brewers, whose product you also won’t be buying, are not god-botherers either.

    • Barfly_Kokhba

      Is that somehow more pitiful than reading a blog related to a religion you don’t believe in, so that you can mock a person you don’t know, in order to loyally–if meagerly–defend a multi-million dollar beer company?

      “God-botherers.” That’s so clever. I wonder if there was ever a time when cleverness was less often confused with actual intelligence.

  • windycitylbc

    Wow, this website is, just, awful. You’re writing an article about something that happened 11 years ago b/c somebody didn’t properly include GOD in a marketing campaign/slogan? Kathy, your articles are poorly written and honestly a complete waste of time. Seems to me that the religious side really does have to STRETCH quite a bit these days to find things to be offended about. Here’s a thought, don’t drink their beer, don’t listen to their commercials, and don’t write crappy articles about it either. It’s useless drivel, it’s incredibly boring, and a complete waste of everybody’s time.

    • Barfly_Kokhba

      Aww, are things not going so well up in Chicago these days? I heard there were even more murders than usual this last weekend. That’s too bad. Cheer up, I hear your man Obama’s gonna get another Nobel Peace Prize any day now. He’s a great orator, you know. Hey, if all those murders in Chicago are bumming you out, you could always move to Wisconsin…tell Governor Walker “Hello.”

  • Local brews for distributism. They at least provide jobs in your local community.

  • James Dobbins

    I guess more Sam Adams and less Guinness! time to progress out of the bronze era! does your husband shave? that’s a sin! do you do it in any other form than missionary? that’s a sin! I could go on and on, but the FACTS are the earth is a few billion years old, the observable universe as we know it is several of that! stop hiding yourself in fear of might be after death and enjoy the time your alive!

    • Sue from Buffalo

      Boy, was THIS a stupid answer.

      Sue from Buffalo

  • Parashar Krishnamachari

    I don’t see the big deal here. The Sex for Sam business is long past, and ultimately irrelevant… there aren’t ways you can connect that stunt to the recent ad, even with the most contrived of mental gymnastics…

    As far as leaving the “Creator” reference out, big deal. It’s not like it was there in any of the original drafts of the Declaration anyway. It was forced in by fundamentalist members of the Continental Congress to be added in the signed draft. I don’t know about ad guidelines within the beer industry, but chances are that a lot of Sam Adams buyers (which makes up a tiny percentage of the overall market) have a slightly larger proportion of non-believers and skeptics than the general population does. This makes sense as those who are more educated tend to be a bit snobbier about their libations, so they are trying to avoid offending their target market.

  • charles g

    I’m with you. I’m done.

  • Steve from Yellowstone

    Rammmmmmooooone, somebody get this woman a wiffleball bat and a jar of olive oil

  • Treaty of Tripoly

    Put on your big girl panties and quit being offended by everything.

  • Maxime N. DiGent

    Thanks for the tip. I recall the St. Pat’s sex flap, but I didn’t know about the Sam Adams connection. I also wrongly thought Yuengling was a CHINESE beer, so I have something good to anticipate. 🙂

  • bob

    Lot of trolls posting here, missing the point, so here it is:

    Jim Koch of Sam Adams beer promoted a sex act in a house of God.

    Despicable. So no I will never buy his products again.

  • JSchae

    I’ve been boycotting Sam Adams since 1997. They were a sponsor of the ridiculously unentertaining Catholic-bashing TV show Nothing Sacred. A show so bad you wondered how it ever aired based on quality alone. Oh yeah. That wasn’t what mattered.

    Anyway, my brother got worked up about it enough to write several of the sponsors. Every letter he got back was at least polite. Except one. The arrogant, condescending, haughtily dismissive tone of that letter from Sam Adams still inspires me to this day as I go out of my way to avoid drinking their swill. I make sure to tell all my friends and acquaintances exactly why I won’t drink it too. It was really something. I still can’t get over how exceedingly obnoxious a letter that was… sent to a “customer” to boot. Left us in no doubt as to where they stood.

    Of course it goes without saying that they remained a sponsor. The show was canceled finally for the simple fact that nobody was watching it.

    (Scroll down almost to the very bottom):

    Heck, I never liked their beer anyway. It’s not really handcrafted by a bearded guy in a smock in the bathtub of his house down the street from you, you know. It’s as mass-produced as anything else these days.