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An ode to the Malört bowl

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Much better than Illinutger.

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As we all are keenly aware, this Saturday presents the perfect opportunity for Northwestern Football to one-up the Northwestern Basketball loss to Merrimack last Friday. This race to rock bottom is much like the race to the bottom of a Malört bottle: nobody really wants or needs it, it’s purely out of desperation, and is currently unique to the Chicago area.

Since neither Northwestern nor UMass will be anywhere near a bowl game this season, thus was born the Malört bowl.

Malört, for those who are somehow unaware, is a type of Bäsk Swedish Liquor. It has been made in Chicago since the 1930s, and was one of the few types of alcohol that was not banned during prohibition. For some reason, many locals take pride in their ability to down the disgusting drink. The specific taste of Malört is tough to pin down, but descriptions of the drink have varied from “pencil shavings and heartbreak” to “the liquid equivalent of a Chicago winter.”

Having woken up to a stark warning about the upcoming winter (in the form of four inches of snow) yesterday, it seemed fitting knowing that the Malört Bowl week has begun. The title is fitting, given the dreary, bitter game action that is sure to come.

By this point in the season, Northwestern fans are feeling that same bitterness, thanks to the unique mixture of an underwhelming season and Mick McCall’s play-calling.

90 percent of all Malört produced is consumed within the boundaries of Cook County. It is almost certainly Chicago’s Big Ten drink, and, as we’ve already established this year, Northwestern is truly Chicago’s Big Ten team (P.S: read Mac’s article, it’s really good).

Ironically enough, tickets are so cheap on Stubhub and other ticketing sites that it costs more to buy a shot of Malört than it does tickets to this Saturday’s football game.


Much like @TheBigC_30 did with his “Fire McCall” Fireball shots, likening this game to a bottle of Malört, something with limited upside and a noted bitterness, seems apt. When you see the fourth run-run-run sequence before the halfway mark of the first quarter, the repetitive play may be part of the offensive coordinator’s last stand.

The description in the following advertisement for the “courageous” drink is seemingly supposed to be a good thing? I’m not sure calling something “brusk and harsh” is a compliment. But honestly, that would be a kinder description than many of the things fans have said about the 2019 Northwestern offense.

Some people claim that Malört was produced because after smoking extensively, the drink’s bitterness was one of the few things Jeppson himself could taste. That, in reality, is the perfect metaphor for Northwestern football fans. The Malört bowl is to the Wildcat faithful as MACtion and Hawaii games that go until 2 AM are to degenerate gamblers.

Fans will see a parallel from the taste-deprived desperation of drinking Malört for Mr. Jeppson to their need to see a Northwestern offense that has scored 38 points in their last five games, 22 of those coming last week against Purdue, finally get the ball in the end zone with some measure of consistency. By that token, the shot of bitterness Wildcat fans need can be provided by one of the worst FBS defenses of the century.

This a group that gave up 56 points to UConn, the 122nd-ranked offense in the country. Now I’m not calling Mick McCall an offensive deity by any means, but if the Huskies are setting the bar that high, it’s fair to say that the Wildcats might continue their offensive progress from last game.

It isn’t just the defense that’s the problem for the Minutemen, either. They are coming off of a 56-point loss to 4-6 Army, who gained 498 yards and scored nine (!) touchdowns on the ground but also completely eliminated any semblance of offense from their opponent.

As a fellow Big Ten Conference member (can’t say that too loudly or else we risk letting them know), we understand just how bad rutger is as a football team. Any team that loses to the Scarlet Knights by 27 points needs to reconsider its position as an FBS Independent.

Still, countless injuries continue to plague the Wildcats leading up to this matchup (Kyric McGowan and JJ Jefferson were pulled off the two deep this week and Isaiah Bowser and Gunnar Vogel were announced as out for the season). So who knows what could happen.


It may be deemed uncalled for to take a shot at Northwestern basketball during Malört bowl week. But losing to UMass is the football equivalent of losing to Merrimack in their second Division One game (after losing the first to University of Maine by 20!).

Just like Malört, sometimes you need to be blunt and bold.

Here it is, ladies and gents: The Malört Bowl.