EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

January 3, 2010

Battle brews over NH's state beverage

Will milk or cider be NH state drink?

It could be the biggest legislative fight in Concord this year: milk or cider?

Well, maybe not. But the debate over what beverage should be New Hampshire's official drink is heating up.

After being lobbied by three students at Jaffrey Grade School, state Rep. Bonnie Mitchell has introduced a bill to make apple cider the state's official drink. In a state where taxes, budgets and seat belt laws are hotly debated, it does not seem like the type of bill to drum up much opposition.

Try telling that to Jeremy LaChance, a fourth-grader at Gilford Elementary School. He thought the drink should be milk, since kids have it at school every day.

Mitchell, D-Jaffrey, said the "milk people" are bringing forward an amendment to her bill to make milk the official drink.

"Milk is a very fine drink," she said. "It's just that there are 19 other states with milk as an official drink."

"Not only that, but my students contacted me last spring and I filed the legislation. And now the milk people are bringing it in as an amendment. And I was there first," Mitchell said with a laugh.

Mitchell said she also thought that naming cider the official drink could be a good economic tool, leading to sales of proudly labeled New Hampshire cider.

"We would be the first state in the nation to have it as the official drink," she said. "And New Hampshire has a tradition of being first in the nation."

There are not many dairy cows in Southern New Hampshire anymore. But there are plenty of apple orchards, where growers say they sell plenty of cider. Most small farms nearby do not pasteurize their cider, so by law they can only sell it from their own farmstands.

"During apple season, we sell a ton of it," said Mike Cross, farm manager at Mack's Apples in Londonderry.

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