Less favored by my crowd’s female population was MD 20/20, the grape-flavored fortified wine we simple referred to as “Mad Dog.” Mad Dog gained its popularity as a “bum wine,” a cheap high without the sting of liquor but with a boosted alcohol content that hit the mark much faster than Boone’s Farm. Indeed, 20/20 originally stood for 20 ounces at 20 percent alcohol, something my friends and I became aware of rather quickly. The girls of my high school years rarely ventured into Mad Dog territory, but it was quite frequently used as a base for an even more fortified punch (mixed with Everclear) that became a popular non-beer option at many parties of my misspent and reckless youth.
The boys, of course, found both Boone’s Farm and Mad Dog to be of sufficent alcohol content to achieve the maximum buzz in the minimum time, which of course was the point when one was 16. And while it was certainly easy to drink oneself sick by pounding ponies, nothing said sicker than a post-party ralph-fest brought on by the sugary sweet aftertaste of strawberry or grape wine.
Nevertheless, there remains an entire cult of devotees who continue to sing the praises of Boone’s Farm long past their high school days. At the Boone’s Farm Fan Club online (boonesfarm.net) pages of testimonials declare the superior taste and value of the brand with vigor and zeal. Consider this high school memory from Sandie, who followed her own son’s post with this: “I remember drinking Boone’s Farm Strawberry Wine in high school while I was a dating a guy named Randy. He drank MD 20/20 while driving. Good times!”
Good times, indeed, and with my 30th high school reunion on the horizon later this year, I suspect a certain group of those attending will fondly recall the fruity beverage of their youth with dewy-eyed nostalgia. Living in a post-ironic era that celebrates Pabst Blue Ribbon and other downscale beers, it’s quite possible Boone’s Farm could make a comeback. But then again, my suggestion at marketing the stuff as the “Official Beverage of High School” will probably never pass muster—it’s just too obvious. After all, I’m pretty sure there’s a high schooler down the street who already knows this, so why ruin the secret—hipster marketing is all about a wink and nod.
Bill Ramsey is the creative director of The Pulse and consorted with many girls in high school who drank Boone’s Farm.
“1,000 Words: A Writer’s Journal” is an occasional feature showcasing essays, stories and anecdotes about Chattanooga, the South and our world. To be considered for publication, submit 1,000 words or less to http://scr.im/2joi. Use “1,000 Words Submission” as the subject of your email.