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why do they put worms in tequila

What is the origin of the worm at the bottom of a bottle of the Mexican drink Mescale? A NATIVE of Guadelajara, Senor Jaime Alvarez, gave me the following explanation: without the benefits of laboratory conditions, distillers of Tequila in the last century needed some means to test their product. The Agave worm was dropped into the tequila and a basic rule of thumb was that if the worm was still wriggling when it hit the bottom of the bottle, the liquor was safe to drink.

If the worm died on the way down, the tequila was deemed unfit for human consumption. The legendary hallucinogenic benefits of eating the worm stem from the fact that the Agave worm feeds on the peyote cactus, from which the drug mescalin is refined. I WAS on a course earlier this year with the vice-president of one of Mexico's largest drinks companies, and I asked her this same question.

Apparently, the indigenous Mexican 'Indians', who discovered the process of distilling the juice of the Agave cactus, did indeed eat the worms that live in the cactus. However, the business of putting one in the bottle is an entirely new development dreamed up by the marketing men: it allows 'macho' types to show off to each other and their girlfriends by eating the worm.

The 'tradition' is pure invention.
One of the urban legends surrounding the worm in mezcal is that the worm is so saturated in liquor that eating it causes a hallucinogenic reaction similar to that of peyote. This is likely one of the reasons why eating the worm remains a rite of passage to test the drinker s machismo.

However, this particular piece of folklore has no truth to it; eating the worm will not give you hallucinations. One reason for this tall tale could simply result from the fact that the mezcal drinker is probably already highly inebriated by the time the worm is consumed, and may be unable to differentiate between hallucinations and extreme drunkenness.

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