How the Kinsey Report Fueled Whiskey Sales

Cristen Conger

"Kinsey Fun for Everyone." (alsis35/Flickr Creative Commons)

While browsing through Brenda R. Weber's study on the public discourse around Alfred Kinsey's 1953 "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" this caught my eye: "...newspaper coverage on Kinsey's volume on women not only displayed but fostered several important discursive phenomena...ranging from augmented sales of Kinsey whiskey (no direct relation) to increased audiences for evangelical denunciations of Kinsey's 'morally dangerous' report."

The moral outcry comes as no surprise, but augmented sales of Kinsey whiskey? Tell me more, Internet.

Indeed, Kinsey Distillers, owned by Continental Distillery and in no way connected with Indiana University at Bloomington, experienced a surge in consumer interest starting with the 1948 publication of "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male." Unfortunately, customers weren't so much interested in procuring bottles of Kinsey, "the unhurried whiskey," than in getting their hands on a copy of the scintillating survey.

In September 1948, the New Yorker reported:

T. A. DuBois, the whiskey sales manager, said that the company has received several hundred letters asking for copies of the Report. Early in the game Du Bois sent out a form letter explaining the situation. Lately he has enclosed a brochure entitled "Kinsey's Own Report on the Kinsey Report." The cover of this booklet bears a reproduction of a knight in armor, the advertising symbol of Kinsey whiskey. He is depicted reading a copy of the Real Kinsey Report.

long since shut down

admonishing from the Distilled Spirit Counsel of the United States