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The Yankee Gyrocopter of Mexican Beer

Cover artwork of a two-seat gyrocopter drawn for a 1930 American mechanical magazine.

In the first appearance of comedian W.C. Fields (1880–1946) in the 1933 Hollywood film "International House" he is seated in the cockpit of a gyrocopter (a rotary-wing aircraft) at a Mexican airport drinking the last of a multitude of Mexican draft beers before departing on a solo flight. While he drinks, Mexican workers load the gyrocopter with wooden kegs of draft beer and cases of bottled beer. The progress of Fields's fight in the aptly-named Spirit of Brooklyn is traced by the empty beer bottles tossed earthward, injuring unlucky citizens, who, according to a newspaper report, are "resting as comfortably as can be expected." These scenes and other liquor-drinking scenes in the film established Fields's image as a wisecracking, hard-drinking boozehound. His large nose added to his on-screen inebriated image. In real life, Fields was a heavy drinker, but beer was not his favorite alcoholic beverage: He preferred gin. He drank beer, he said, to calm his nerves. Sources: James Curtis, W.C. Fields: A Biography  (New York, 2003) and "W.C. Fields: Behind the Laughter," bonus feature, "International House" in W.C. Fields: Comedy Collection (DVD), 2004.


2X factlet: The double Roman numeral X (10) on the label and coaster of the Mexican beer Dos Equis is the numerical representation of the beer's name -- "two Xs" in English -- an XX name because the beer was first brewed in the 1880s and named Dos Equis at the turn of the century to celebrate the new XX (20th) century. Source: WBT's Mexican beer files.

Saint factlet: A beer brewery in Mexico in 2007 marketed a brew named after the Mexican folklore outlaw Jesus Malverde, who, allegedly, was hanged or shot in 1909 and today is considered to be the patron saint ("narco-saint") of Mexican drug lords -- a sainthood not recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. Source: Associated Press, 12 Dec 2007.

Latin factlet: A popular beer imported into the United States from Mexico is Corona, a pale lager that takes its name from the golden crown (corona in Latin) on its label. Source: WBT's Mexican beer files.

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