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Ain't no party like a midwest party
March 8, 2010 4:01 PM   Subscribe

A map and discussion of those areas of the US in which grocery stores outnumber bars. In which the regional number of bars per capita is arrived at, and outliers found. A boring person would conclude that these numbers are inversely correlated with population density. A more obviously correct conclusion, of course, is that the Midwest knows how to get down.
posted by PMdixon (33 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
Of particular interest to me are the four solitary red dots in western NM, one of which I grew up in.
posted by PMdixon at 4:01 PM on March 8, 2010


from the comments:

A few too many assumptions built in, I think.

- Your first map doesn't adjust for population or pop density, does it?
- I don't trust the google data. They have very odd places turning up as grocery stores.
- You've got some very very low density areas showing up a very red (like ND). People like a drink, and it could be that there's a small minimum number of people required for a bar (does this include pubs and food establishments, btw?), so that in low-density areas, this shows up as a high ratio of bars to grocery stores. That is, a town of 5000 might have one bar, but so would a town of 10,000. In a state with lots of places of 5000, there are more bars per capita, but this says nothing about how much people are drinking.
- DIfferent states have different laws about stores, esp. bars. For ex, NJ limits liquor licenses by town population, so the state is fairly low in bars and liquor stores.
- So what about liquor sales or liquor consumption instead?

posted by HP LaserJet P10006 at 4:05 PM on March 8, 2010


Maybe Midwestern drinking establishments are more likely to be referred to as a 'bar'.
posted by ofthestrait at 4:08 PM on March 8, 2010


This is so extremely weak I don't even know where to start. The guy teaches at a geography department? Really? Ugh. He needs to walk down the hall to the statistics department.
posted by desjardins at 4:11 PM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


So looks like Wisconsin is your best bet.
Does the word "Duh" mean anything to you, Professor Obvious?
posted by Floydd at 4:15 PM on March 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


You've got some very very low density areas showing up a very red (like ND). People like a drink, and it could be that there's a small minimum number of people required for a bar (does this include pubs and food establishments, btw?), so that in low-density areas, this shows up as a high ratio of bars to grocery stores.

I can assert this to be the case, in the sense that I have had beers at the following bars:

- The Nebrask'Inn in Gross, Nebraska. Gross has a census population of 9, an actual population 5 (one of the two resident families moved out of town), and, as of my visit there several years ago, an effective population of 2 (three kids away at various colleges)

- The Monowi Tavaern in Monowi, Nebraska. Monowi has a census population of 2, but Rudy passed away so it's just Elsie now.

No, seriously. For reals.
posted by Nothing... and like it at 4:16 PM on March 8, 2010 [9 favorites]


It's interesting to look at the Chicago area. The city itself has more grocery stores than bars; the surrounding areas the reverse. My take: the city itself is much more pedestrian-oriented, so you'll get people walking to both bars and grocery stores. So you'll have a lot of both, really. I also wonder whether those White Hen Pantries are being counted as grocery stores. The suburbs are very car-oriented; while bars are only going to get so big as a rule, the grocery stores are free to expand to gigantic proportions, where a relative few service a very large area.

It would be interesting to plot square feet of bars vs square feet of grocery stores as an alternative view.
posted by adamrice at 4:16 PM on March 8, 2010


This is really kind of meaningless. Out in the Midwest, a grocery store will easy support 10,000 people, while a bar will support, maybe, 500. The grocery stores are just bigger, because the land is cheaper, everyone drives, and driving 15 miles takes 15 minutes. In fact, most large grocery store are positioned in an edge city to serve the largest population possible.
posted by 517 at 4:19 PM on March 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's their latest map. Seriously WTF? If you want to make maps for fun, great, but don't pretend that there's some kind of larger significance to it when you're that sloppy with data (and cartographic presentation).
posted by desjardins at 4:21 PM on March 8, 2010


My town has two grocery stores, and at least six bars. Not on the map.
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 4:24 PM on March 8, 2010


I agree that the data probably isn't perfect. The apartment next to mine shows up as a grocery store on various Internet-based information sources. (And it wouldn't surprise me if my favorite bar doesn't show up, although I haven't looked.)
posted by madcaptenor at 4:31 PM on March 8, 2010


My town has two grocery stores and two bars. Well, three bars if you count the bowling alley. So I guess we basically break even, but I'm not sure I understand what the data in the post is supposed to signify.
posted by amyms at 4:32 PM on March 8, 2010


Different states have different laws about stores, esp. bars. For ex, NJ limits liquor licenses by town population, so the state is fairly low in bars and liquor stores.


NJ may limit liquor licenses by population, but in my experience, in the South Jersey part that I am most familiar with there are plenty of bars and liquor stores.
posted by fixedgear at 4:32 PM on March 8, 2010


A statistician walks into a bar with his friend to play darts. The statistician throws his first dart and it hits the wall to the left of the board by exactly two feet. The second throw is to the right of the board by exactly two feet. The statistician looks at his friend and says "bullseye!"
posted by crapmatic at 4:35 PM on March 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


517 is correct. I have one grocery store in easy walking distance, but (at a quick count) eight bars. I'd rather have to drive to the grocery store than to the bar, though, so it's fine by me.
posted by echo target at 4:40 PM on March 8, 2010


Quite a few Burger King and Dairy Queen outlets too.
posted by tellurian at 4:48 PM on March 8, 2010


So... grocery stores are those places you go at 1:50 to buy more beer before the bars close at 2:00, right?
posted by qvantamon at 4:51 PM on March 8, 2010


Kansas resident here, population 10k in my town. 8 bars, 4 grocery stores. Not bad.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 4:53 PM on March 8, 2010


Fun fact: In Wisconsin you cannot buy packaged alcohol after 9 pm. So we "need" more bars, because you can't get your fix at the grocery store.
posted by desjardins at 4:57 PM on March 8, 2010


I grew up in Wisconsin. Right at the death of a lot of these small towns (thanks Reagan!). When I was younger, the town had 1 Catholic church (natch), a tiny ma'n'pa grocery store (ol' man chinks), 2 garages, post office and 2 bars.

It was "unincorporated" so I don't know the actual population, but lets just say it must've been less than 50 for sure. 2 bars on the corner. And the kicker? My tiny little Christian School that I attended for the first few years of my schooling days was right by those bars.

And yeah, as desjardins said, we have this stupid "no alcohol after 9 pm" Gotta love the Wisconsin Tavern League!
posted by symbioid at 5:16 PM on March 8, 2010


Another point -how many of those areas where there are more bars are serviced by one gigantic Super Wal-Mart for three towns, rather than a few smaller smaller neighbourhood grocers? Did someone come up with a Wal-Mart mapping?
posted by kellyblah at 5:17 PM on March 8, 2010


I wonder how much the "beer belly" of the Midwest is correlated with areas that had a lot of German immigrants in the 19th century.
posted by jonp72 at 5:21 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Did someone come up with a Wal-Mart mapping?
Here you go.
posted by tellurian at 5:30 PM on March 8, 2010


Wasted in Wisconsin, a series from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. From an accompanying graphic, Wisconsin ranks:
* 1st in binge drinking, with 23.4% of adults engaging within the last month (2007 survey)
* One of two states as of 2007 where the first DWI that is a felony was the fifth (a new law makes the 4th a felony)
* 48th in the tax levied on beer sales (6.5¢ per gallon)
* 3rd highest in percentage of fatal accidents (41.4%) where one driver had a BAC over the legal limit (0.08)

One city, La Crosse, has had so many deaths of young men drowning drunk in the Mississippi that the FBI was forced to study the issue in order to rule out a serial killer.

So, yeah, this map is hardly surprising.
posted by dhartung at 5:39 PM on March 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I wonder how much the "beer belly" of the Midwest is correlated with areas that had a lot of German immigrants in the 19th century.

Ladies and gents, we have a winner.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:46 PM on March 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


You have to zoom in, but you can totally find Baltimore this way. Seems about right.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:48 PM on March 8, 2010


I wonder how much the "beer belly" of the Midwest is correlated with areas that had a lot of German immigrants in the 19th century.
I can tell you that my hometown of Dubuque, IA, which lies at the intersection of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois, is almost completely made up of German and Irish Catholics. I grew up thinking that everyone was Catholic, and that everyone got totally shitfaced and gambled at every family gathering.

Not surprisingly, there seems to be a very large number of bars for the size of that community.
posted by TrialByMedia at 6:39 PM on March 8, 2010


Fun fact: In Wisconsin you cannot buy packaged alcohol after 9 pm. So we "need" more bars, because you can't get your fix at the grocery store.

Actually..."no carryouts after nine" is a Milwaukee area thing. Milwaukee implemented the 9:00 ordinance as a crime reduction measure and the surrounding communities followed suit. State law still allows carryout sales until midnight if the municipality allows it.
posted by MikeMc at 7:17 PM on March 8, 2010


I wonder how much the "beer belly" of the Midwest is correlated with areas that had a lot of German immigrants in the 19th century.
According to Census 2000, there were 131,393 foreign born from Germany in the Midwest (0.2% of the total population). 163,329 in the Northeast (0.3%). 187,089 in the West (0.3%). 224,893 in the South (0.2%). [source]
posted by tellurian at 8:32 PM on March 8, 2010


Fun fact: In Wisconsin you cannot buy packaged alcohol after 9 pm. So we "need" more bars, because you can't get your fix at the grocery store.

This is not catagorically true. There are many municpalities where you can buy later than that. For example, Superior (AKA souptown, for it's very liberal alcohol policies) allows you to buy until Midnight. (or did last time I was up that way).

Here in Madison, you cannot buy after 9, but head out of town a bit, and you can buy until 11. (although your selection will be limited).

In practice though, this only really punishes the unprepared. I have a whole other refrigerator full of beer in the basement, and I aint the only one. You know, for the coming apocalypse. Or in case of company. It's like the same.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:49 PM on March 8, 2010


The old, old version of Trivial Pursuit (the one where the arts and entertainment section had no questions involving arts or entertainment past 1960) had the question "What town in America is famous for having the highest per capita number of bars?" The answer was Highwood, Illinois, in the northern suburbs. This, of course, was helped due to its proximity to Fort Sheridan, the army base right on the edge of town.

God, that was a great game.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:02 PM on March 8, 2010


Tellurian, that's currently living foreign-born citizens. jonp72 was talking about the 1800s.
posted by echo target at 7:12 AM on March 9, 2010


Someone asked me to break down what was wrong with Floating Sheep via memail, and I am still so full of GRAR that I am going to post it in this still-open thread. Just in case anyone wanted to take these clowns seriously.

First, I want to say that while this appears to be a "just for fun" kind of blog, it's run by geography professors, who should know better (and frankly be embarrassed). Second, it's been linked by blogs (including mefi*) who think these maps actually impart useful information. They're wrong. Let's break down this blog post about mapping religion:

The first map displays references to four types of Christianity

What references? Where'd they come from?

Of course, those who are making placemarks

Who are "those" people? Making what placemarks? Reading through other posts on the blog, it becomes slightly clearer that they mean Google placemarks that are created by members of the intertubes-having public.

Part of the issue is likely down to the fact that we thus far have confined our searches to English-language terms and are therefore missing out on all the references to Catholicism in Spanish.

You think? And maybe you should mention that most other countries have much lower rates of internet access? AND THAT BRAZILIANS DO NOT SPEAK SPANISH, IDIOTS!

Our readers might also be interested in the fact that there are parts of the country in which the Amish are most visible in religious cyberspaces: a somewhat surprising finding given the fact that they are not supposed to be using contemporary technology - let alone be annotating Google placemarks.

What? You don't have to be a member of anything to annotate a placemark; more than likely these are furniture stores or quilt shops. I'm certain that they must have some software that strips the keywords and geocoding from the placemark files (there's no way they can manually do this for the entire country, let alone the world), but THEY NEVER SAY THIS.

OK, well, they do say this in the PDF of their professional presentation (despite the URL, he does not work at Harvard).

But check slides 15-16. Hinduism and Buddhism have that many placemarks in the U.S.? REALLY? If they were marking temples, wouldn't they be called Such-and-such Hindu Temple, not Such-and-such HINDUISM Temple? It doesn't make any sense.

What is slide 20 supposed to prove, other than you want to keep your audience awake by mentioning sex? South Americans don't have sex? Europeans are godless heathens who fuck like rabbits? Please, enlighten us.

Here's a much worse example on their blog. The real question is why people put "drunk" and "sober" in placemarks. "Bob's Bar is a great place to get drunk" makes some sense. "Man, last night I stayed so sober at Joe's Pizza" does not. THE INFURIATING PART is their graph.

In short, the number of user generated placemarks referencing the word "sober" is negatively related to the number of traffic fatalities resulting from drunk drivers. Although there isn't a direct causal relationship between the two (after all, how would the creation of a placemark affect individual decisions about driving?), the existence of a correlation at all is a compelling example of how online and offline human activity can mirror each other.

NO IT'S NOT NEGATIVELY RELATED. IT'S NOT RELATED AT ALL. R-SQUARE OF 0.192 IS MEANINGLESS. Even this SEO clown knows this. "The closer to 1.0 the R-square value is, the better the model. The closer the R-square value is to 0, the worse the model. "

It's like saying the color of my hair affects your propensity to like kittens.

GRARRRRRRRRRRR

-----------------

The reason this infuriates me is that Internet people are in love with infographics, and they see "Oooh pretty map that is relevant to my interests" and delve no further. The south is mostly Baptist - well, NO SHIT, SHERLOCK.

It also makes geography look like a messy, superficial discipline. I have a B.S. in sociology with a geography minor, and a Masters in Urban Planning with a concentration in Geographic Information Systems. I certainly don't know everything, but I know sloppy research when I see it.
posted by desjardins at 9:58 AM on March 18, 2010


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