A new list of the “Drunkest Cities in America” puts a perhaps unwelcome spotlight on Wisconsin, which is home to 12 cities in the top 20, ranked by the highest rates of binge drinking in adults.And look what city comes in first?
The findings were compiled by online financial news outlet 24/7 Wall St.
Wisconsin outdrinks any other state, results showed. Our neighbor to the east boasted seven of the top 10 “Drunkest Cities,” including the top four: Appleton, Oshkosh-Neenah, Green Bay and Madison.Why do people in Wisconsin drink so much? It's nothing particularly new. My people are of Bavarian and Irish ancestry and drinking is part of the culture; a lot of people in Appleton have similar ancestry. Downtown Appleton has bars galore on the main street, College Avenue, and in my youth I spent plenty of time downtown. Appleton is also, by and large, a fairly prosperous community, and young people have disposable income and opportunity to go out and party. If you look at the list, nearly every non-Wisconsin location is a college town.
So what does it mean? Well, the story mentions something in passing that I think is especially significant:
The group analyzed self-reported data from County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, a joint program with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Excessive drinking, concentration of bars and alcohol-related driving deaths all were contributing factors in determining America’s drunkest cities — all but two of which are in the Midwest.Emphasis mine. People drink in Wisconsin. Sometimes they drink a lot. I think people in Wisconsin are simply more honest about how they go about it -- there is no particular stigma to drinking in the state; you don't have a lot of people who are teetotalers. If you grow up in Wisconsin, none of it seems very unusual. This bit from the comedian Lewis Black is spot-on. It's also, without question, NSFW.
I'll be back in Appleton over the weekend for my stepbrother's memorial service. I would imagine we'll have a few beers as well. It's the way we roll.