Beer ball on sofa, 50 Chester St., Allston, MA, (c. 1997)

Beer Balls… let’s talk about ’em.

Marketed as The Party Ball by Bud and Coors, the plastic ball held 5.2 gallons of beer (roughly 55 cups) and sold for about $30. It came in a box with a plastic bag: put the plastic liner in the box, fill with ice (or snow), add beer ball.  The tap was a cheap black pump with a spear-like tube that you’d stab through a little port in the ball.

When the beer level got low, it was traditional to remove the tap, cut a hole in the top of the ball, drink the dregs and wear the empty ball around like an astronaut helmet.

Great design.  Light enough to carry without help, perfect size for the trunk of your car or an average baby stroller.  If the TSA wasn’t so worked up about liquid in your carry-on, you could probably fit one in the overhead compartment.  Just be careful when opening because items may have shifted…

I’d never seen one until I moved to Boston (1996). They were popular around graduation time, Super Bowl Sunday, Patriots Day —  special occasions when the city’s 360,000 college students and 132,000 Irish American residents appreciate an alternative to the more conventional options already available. Incidentally, Boston has 10 bars and 18 packies (liquor stores) per 100,000 residents, and is the 24th most hungover city in the U.S. according to CDC’s guidelines.

Apparently, Coors and Bud both discontinued party balls in 2011, but honestly I haven’t seen one this millennia.

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