Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Goon: Economical, Convenient and Delicious?

During a trip to the East coast of Australia last year I was introduced, as many travelers are, to boxed wine.  I was told it was terrible stuff drank only by the homeless and backpackers and that I had best avoid it if I wanted to function the following day.
These inspiring words had me on my way to the nearest supermarket to pickup the cheapest 4 litres of wine I could find. At the supermarket I would encounter difficult decision to make. The two cheapest boxes read "Fruity Lexia" and "Classic Dry Red" respectively. My first thought was "what the fuck is a Lexia" followed by the realization that I enjoy fruity beverages and as such "Fruity Lexia" was sure to be delicious.  Back at the hostel, with great anticipation, I 'tapped' the box (ie. pulled the spout through a hole in the box) and poured my self a glass (or plastic cup).  Upon tasting the urine coloured beverage I was faced with the crushing reality of boxed Fruity Lexia; it wasn't all that fruity at all, in fact it just tasted like shitty white wine.

Despite my initial experience with Goon (as boxed-wine is known throughout Australia) I have come to appreciate it, not for it's flavour nor convenient packaging but for its price.  Goon is by far the cheapest way to get drunk in Australia, most boxes sell for under $10(AU) and a box typically contains 4 or 5 litres! While many young tourists enjoy drinking goon very few know where the term 'goon' came from or the history of boxed wine.  The term 'Goon' apparently originated as a diminutive slang for flagon (a large leather, metal or ceramic pitcher) and is today used to refer to any cheap or inferior cask wine. The first commercial Bag-in-Box was invented by Australian William R. Scholle in 1955 for the safe transportation and dispensing of battery acid for which he was inducted into the packaging hall of fame. Thomas Angove, took the bag-in-box idea, and he figured "what's good for battery acid should be good for shitty wine" and goon was born.   In 1965 he patented his idea of 4.5 litre polyethylene bladders filled with wine in corrugated boxes.

Goon will never be the tastiest of alcoholic drinks but how many drinks come with a built-in pillow to pass out on.  Yes, you read that right, an inflated goon bladder makes for an exceptional pillow which probably further increases it's popularity among the homeless. Additional great features of the goon box include, but are not limited to: the box makes a smart-looking party hat; squeezing the bag and whilst opening the spout can produce a Goon fountain to cool down on those hot Aussie summer days.  Clearly goon is as versatile as it is economical and even if you are't a fan of wine(it's hardly even wine) or don't think you will enjoy it (probably wont), it is still worth picking up a box whilst in Australia and trying this iconic travelers drink that so many have come to love.
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