While perusing old newspapers for information on a member of the 1910 Harvard Law School All Star team for the player’s grandson, my attention shifted, as it often is to shiny objects, to an advertisement located near a tiny article about the man I was researching. The title of the ad blared “Gold Medal Duesseldorfer Beer for the ‘Brain Worker.’” Since beer isn’t often credited with having a positive relationship with intelligence, I became curious and read the text in the ad. In addition to “Being mildly stimulative, it clears and refreshes the brain, while the hops it contains have a soothing effect that banishes nervousness.”
While these claims are not nearly as radical as those made by Cliff Clavin, few would seriously consider taking them seriously. But then, 1907 was a long time ago. For those who can’t remember Cliff Clavin’s pronouncements, a little refresher may be in order.
Cliff likened brain cells to members of a buffalo herd in which the weaker and duller members were culled by predators, thus improving the gene pool of the buffaloes that survived to mate. In the case of brain cells, Cliff theorized that, when ingested into the human body, alcohol kills brain cells but not just any brain cells, it attacks the slower and weaker ones first. With the inferior cells removed, he opines, the brain is quicker and more efficient. That is why, he explains, one feels smarter after downing a few beers.