Why Is The Liquor Store Called The Packie?

In North Carolina they call it the ABC store, and in Pennsylvania, it’s the “state store.” Michigan residents make runs to the “party store.” And in Massachusetts, the liquor store is known as the “packie,” short for “package store.”

If you ever asked where our slang term came from, you were probably told it’s because the Boston Brahmins wanted drinking to be discreet. So, the story goes, they used their clout to get laws passed requiring liquor to be packaged discreetly in nondescript, brown paper after it was sold.

Hence, the package store.

But food historian Robert F. Moss says that origin story came from the historical research method he calls “just making stuff up.” That story, after all, doesn’t explain why the term is also used in South Carolina, where the Brahmins had no influence over lawmakers.

“It has nothing to do with the brown paper bags that liquor bottles are wrapped in but rather the legal twists and dodges,” Moss wrote in explaining the use of the term in South Carolina.

The real story stems from entrepreneurs who found a loophole in liquor laws in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Read the full story

Only In Massachusetts is an occasional series where Patch tries to find answers to questions about life in Massachusetts. Have a question about the Bay State that needs answering? Send it to dave.copeland@patch.com.

Andrew Oliver
Market Analyst | Team Harborside | teamharborside.com
Sagan Harborside Sotheby’s International Realty
One Essex Street | Marblehead, MA 01945
m 617.834.8205


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