Let’s bring back New York City’s goat beauty pageants
Apparently there used to be enough urban goat-ownership in New York that the city could sustain an annual goat beauty pageant. In the post-Prohibition 1930s, the Brewers Board of Trade sought beautiful billy goats to adorn their advertising posters, and the majority of the competitors lived in Manhattan.
Not all of the goats competing in “Mr. Manhattan” were NYC natives — in fact, Pretzels, the 1934 and 1936 winner, lived in Westchester County, which royally pissed off the New York Times:
From that article: “The other goats had citizenship, but Pretzels had beauty, which overleaps the barriers of time, space and nationality.” As if that’s an excuse for coming over here and stealing our lucrative beer sponsorships!
The article, which goes on to repeat a few times that non-resident Pretzels won on a technicality, also contains one of the most delightful subhead/topic sentence combos I have ever seen in a newspaper:
Some Eat Name-Tags
All the goats had name-tags except those who had eaten them.
Oh MAN has journalism ever gone downhill.
In another article, the Times explained that these goats were mostly not the product of rooftop livestock farming, but served a more symbolic role:
Indigenous goats, according to the brewers, fall naturally into two rather finely differentiated classes – mascots and talismans. The mascots are kept by secret societies, naval reserve units and others, to whom the mere fact of keeping a goat seems comical. The talismans are kept by kennels and stables mostly, on the so-far-unexploded theory that no animal can get distemper if a goat is kept somewhere in the offing.
Surely, though, the new vogue for urban agriculture means that we could start this contest — or at least its sister contest, Mr. Brooklyn Bock Beer — back up. It probably wouldn’t be for a beer ad modeling contract, obviously, just for shits and giggles. Or screams.
- A 1930s Beauty Contest With Shapely Horns and Fine Beards , New York Times
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