What was Sneaky Pete?

I was listening to an old Jean Shepherd radio show from 1963 and in it he talks about things for sale at the checkout counter that stores try to lure you into buying at the last minute while you are waiting: cigarettes, candy bars, magazines, and something called Sneaky Pete.

Searching the web I could only find that sneaky pete was a term in the 1950s for cheap wine. That could make sense however it doesn’t quite match how Shep refers to it. Have you ever been in a store where they have cheap wine with the candy bars and magazines at the checkout counter? Did they even sell wine outside of liquor stores in NY in 1963?

The show can be found here http://www.flicklives.com/index.php?pg=254 . The May 10 1963 show titled Army Secret Weapon. He goes over a lot of fun stuff before getting to the secret weapon story. Sneaky Pete is mentioned at 7:56.

Not NY, but my local Rite Aid in Maine, as recently as two days ago, has free standing displays right next to the checkout counter that has what I would describe as wine in single serve containers similar to a juice box. I’m not a drinker, and it has always struck me as a bit odd. I assume that this is “cheap” wine, if it’s sold in a paper box? They also have liquor in pint containers, behind the counter.

Drink that slop
That’s what I’m talkin’ about
Ah, drink it
Sneaky Pete

Sticks McGhee (“Drinkin’ Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee”)

The original version of the song (which dates back to the mid-40s) was a bit saltier than the popularly known recording.

Drinkin’ that mess is our delight,
And when we get drunk, start fightin’ all night.
Knockin’ out windows and tearin’ down doors,
Drinkin’ half-gallons and callin’ for more.
Drinkin’ wine motherfucker, drinkin’ wine!
Drinkin’ wine motherfucker, drinkin’ wine!
Drinkin’ wine motherfucker, drinkin’ wine!
Pass that bottle to me!"

You’re welcome. :slight_smile:

Thanks to the OP for posting links to old Jean Shepherd shows on WOR. I used to listen to him on many nights doing household chores when growing up. Great stuff.

Not the answer to your question, but you may be interested to know that a “Sneaky Pete” is also the term for a good quality two-piece pool cue which is designed to look like a standard cheap bar cue.

The idea is that as a pool hustler, you could make it look like you’re just another bar patron who grabbed a random cue from the wall, when in reality you brought your own expensive and carefully maintained cue from home, giving you an unfair advantage.

In The Lust Lizard Of Melancholy Cove, Christopher Moore has his pothead town constable Theo take hits off his “Sneaky Pete” throughout the day. From context, I assumed that was a disguised bong.

I own a Sneaky Pete quality 2 piece cue. I don’t use it often.

One day I went a bar I frequent often because there at least 5 or more really good pool players and we have fun playing with each other. We don’t play against each other, we play against ourselves to improve our game skills. It is all fun, play standard 8 ball rules and shake hands together out of respect whomever wins. Sometimes we bet on buying the winner a beer.

I live in The State of Maine. For some reason the locals hate people from Massachusetts. so, this guy from Mass walks into the bar and runs the table, beating 4 of our best players using his own custom stick.

My fellow players asked me to take him on, but my back hurt ,so did not want to play. I was convinced by them to give it a try as I was told told the reputation of the bar was at stake, but asked if I could go outside for a minute and have a cigarette first. The bar has a fireplace and a woodpile outside. I found a bark covered fairly straight stick and trimmed many small branches and tried to make a somewhat flat tip with my pocket knife.

I put $100 on the tabla, as I was already drunk. He did the same. He saw my condition and my crooked woodpile stick. He did not get a ball in on the break. Now it was my turn. I ran the table, but had to use the brush to remove the bark that fell off of my kindling after each shot.

I won, collected my $100 and was then offered so many free drinks from the bar patrons for saving their reputation of the bar from someone from Mass. I had to be driven home. The guy from Mass. left without a word or handshake.

That was 5 years ago. I am still a hero there.

Best pool game I had in my life!

After my opponent left my friends burned the stick I made in the fireplace with much glee. They chanted and danced like the stick was voodoo.

Now that is a real Sneaky Pete. Or lots of luck.

Oh. I thought we were going to talk about Stinky Pete.

Thanks for posting this. I was aware of the motherfucker lyric, but didn’t know there was a recording of it. And I had never heard the “Drink that slop…Sneaky Pete” part.

Maybe you (or someone) can help with a question on this song. The chorus mentions drinking “half an’ half .” Some years ago I found a site that discussed this song (including the motherfucker/spo-dee-o-dee bit) that explained what half and half was. Sadly, I can’t remember the two components of this concoction – some kind of wine mixed with something else? – nor find that website. Can anyone tell what half and half is in this context?

Ask and ye shall receive. I knew I’d read about this here sometime in the past. It’s not definitive but it might give you some guidance.

For my tastes - which don’t normally run to beer, I admit - half and half at a local pub here in Charleston is half Harp and half Guinness.

So how would Ned Flanders know anything about Sneaky Pete?

The fact that’s an ad for Hulu is downright hilarious.

Thanks for linking that. I’d forgotten part of it.

I know this as a black and tan, poured so as to keep the colors separate, one on top and one on the bottom.

Prior to reading this thread, I was unaware of any “Sneaky Pete” other than “Sneaky Pete” Kleinow, the legendary pedal steel guitarist who contributed so much to Jackson Browne’s earliest recordings.

They still sell that there? Let me tell you a story from when I was working in the industry :slight_smile:

We used to (and sort of still do) have something called a “Wine cooler”. Cheap alcohol with cheap fruit juice and cane sugar, to make it attractive to kids not yet mildly addicted to alcohol. Then somebody had the bright idea of selling it in single-server paper boxes, like a fruit box. Cheaper, easier to dispose of, less broken glass.

There was outrage. Selling alcoholic drinks in packages like kids fruit juice? To capture the kids market?

And very very swift regulation of the “Wine Cooler” market, with restrictions on packaging and alcohol percentage.

But it was too late. The “Wine Cooler” market had collapsed. You’ll remember that they were selling a sweet sticky drink to kids who wanted an ‘adult’ drink that didn’t taste like an adult drink. And no way were those kids gonna drink a “drink marketed at kids”. Not ever. The rest of the industry was extremely pissed off.

So no drinks in small cardboard boxes here.

In the modern era, Sneaky Pete is a Amazon Prime Original series starring Giovanni Ribisi, about a con man that assumes the identity of his former cell mate, named Pete.

I immediately thought of this:

There are other varieties, one of which has a metal woven “Chinese finger trap” type part.