By the nature of its creation, moonshine is a somewhat unusual beverage. It's supposed to be homemade, which means that those who produce it often have to get creative to avoid having to purchase unnecessary items.
Why do moonshiners use a raccoon pecker?
Although by its design, moonshine is a do-it-yourself process, that doesn't mean it's all that simple. Making alcohol isn't the easiest task in the world, and it requires a number of different processes, including distillation.
Distillation involves selectively boiling and cooling your mixture and requires a device called a still. Once your mixture has been distilled, it can be poured into another vessel for consumption, and that's where raccoon peckers come in.
Unlike most mammals, raccoons actually have a bone in their penis that helps keep it stiff during copulation. That bone also happens to be quite useful in helping to guide the moonshine out of the still and into the vessel where it will be drunk. The reason they use raccoon penis bones is actually quite simple: most moonshiners are also raccoon hunters, so they have plenty available.
The bones are also sometimes referred to as toothpicks or "Alabama toothpicks" because of their association with the rural lifestyle popular in that part of the country. In fact, the use of raccoon peckers for moonshining is so common that it even has a page on Urban Dictionary. It may seem like a strange practice, but it also seems to be a pretty practical one.
How real is the show 'Moonshiners'?
Moonshining has only become more popular in the wake of shows like Moonshiners, which follow people who make and sell their alcohol illegally. While the show does take steps to accurately depict that process of creating moonshine, the idea that what they're doing is against the law may be a little more open to interpretation.
According to Tim and Tickle, two of the show's central characters, they aren't caught because by the time the episodes make it to television, they are no longer committing any crimes.
As they explain it, the government doesn't care about the quality of the beverage. All they're really interested in is how much their cut is, and whether the product is being taxed or not.
"There’s not really a big fear here," Tim explained about the possibility that they'll be caught. "It’s just that the government can’t get their money accounted for. That’s all it is. They don’t have a taste regulation today. I mean right now the legal brand of whiskey on the shelf, there’s no taste regulator on it. You can go buy anything and say ‘I don’t like it. It doesn’t taste good.’ There’s no regulations on it."
Whether the show is real or not, it's certainly sparked plenty of interest in what making moonshine is actually like. Apparently, that process even includes the essential use of a raccoon pecker.