Yukon Tourism Seeks ‘Toenations’ For Its Awful Cocktail

Bruce Parkinson, Open  Jaw

The theft of a bizarre cocktail ingredient -- a mummified human toe -- has spurred Travel Yukon to launch a tongue-in-cheek campaign for an "insurance" toe, just in case the digit gets stolen (or swallowed) again. 

In Yukon's Dawson City, drinking a cocktail with a pickled toe is a time-honoured tradition undertaken by more than 100,000 visitors, including your Open Jaw correspondent.

The toe was stolen from a local hotel on 18JUN. Happily, (for some) it came back by mail four days later along with an apology letter, according to the RCMP.

In the meantime, Travel Yukon took advantage of the spotlight, creating the “Toenation Contest” on Twitter, and soliciting pictures of potential toes for future backups. The winner gets a free trip to the territory. 

"Our toe was returned, but we can always use backups!" Travel Yukon tweeted. "Donate yours for a #Yukon trip. Will your toe make the cut?"

The story behind the cocktail is that a local man created the drink after finding a jar with the amputated frost-bitten toe of a rum-runner from the 1920s.

Joining the ‘Sourtoe Cocktail’ club entails raising and drinking from a glass containing the toe and your favourite tipple. Over the years, at least one toe has been swallowed, so replacements are occasionally required.

"Be sure to remember the most important rule: 'You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow, but your lips have gotta touch the toe,'" according to the city's website. 

RCMP said a male suspect in the theft case called police after officers identified him. He allegedly left his identification at the hotel after downing the cocktail, according to the Yukon News. The toe came back with the apology letter, signed "a drunken fool,."

"At the time that the package was opened, the toe was believed to be in good condition," RCMP said. "Charges are not expected to be laid in this matter."

Open Jaw’s Bruce Parkinson tasted the toe many years ago, at a cable television conference in Edmonton. Your correspondent was urged to join the (short) line to take part by a group of Newfoundland cable TV execs, led by a certain Rhodes Scholar Danny Williams, who went on to be Premier of Newfoundland.

The Newfoundlanders graciously allowed Parkinson to go first, and when he turned around after completing the disgusting mission, they had vanished back to the dinner table. Their explanation: “We may be $%^&& Newfies, but we’re not $%%^& stupid.”

Apparently, they draw the line at kissing a fish. Can’t say we blame them.

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