An Idaho government official denies that the state banned a vodka drink because it would be considered offensive to Mormons.
Jeffrey R. Anderson, director of the Idaho State Liquor Division, told The Christian Post that "Five Wives" vodka, a brand considered by some to be insulting to Mormons, was not banned by the state. "We did not 'ban' the product on behalf of Mormons," said Anderson, who added that "Mormons had nothing to do with the decision nor were they consulted."
"The screening team believed the product was average, the price too high, and the label deemed offensive to primarily women."
Last month, the Idaho State Liquor Division decided to not allow "Five Wives" vodka to be carried by state liquor stores. Ogden's Own, the Utah-based distillery that makes "Five Wives," claimed that the vodka had been banned by Idaho over it being offensive to Mormons.
In a letter by Howard Wasserstein, deputy director of the Liquor Division, Ogden's Own was told that their product "is offensive to a prominent segment of our population."
"We can only presume he means Mormons," said Steve Conlin, partner and vice president of marketing at Ogden's Own, in a statement. "Though that makes little sense as they allow Polygamy Porter from Wasatch Beers of Utah to be sold. We're a little dumbfounded by it all."
According to United States Census, about a quarter of the Idaho population belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Continuing with this issue, Ogden's Own began to sell T-shirts with the declaration "Free the Five Wives" and showing the Barrison Sisters, a controversial early 20th century act who were used for the vodka's label, as being behind bars.
"Join us is fighting the ban of Five Wives vodka in the State of Idaho as we gear up for a First Amendment fight over our right to sell our product to customers who have requested it," reads the ad for the shirts.
Regarding the issue of being offensive, Anderson told CP that there was some note of how the name and label of the vodka could be considered sexist.
"When asked if it could be offensive to people of the LDS faith, I said it could be, but the primary concern was the label being offensive to women," said Anderson.
"The label depicts the Barrison Sisters …They are shown lifting their skirts to reveal cats covering their genital areas. This is what the screeners deemed 'offensive.'"
According to Anderson, Idaho already allows for 2,400 "distilled spirits," including 400 different brands of vodka.
"There are over 18,000 distilled spirits brands-line and size extensions available in the USA," said Anderson. "It would be unproductive and irresponsible for us to carry everything."