The Celluloid Pantry: Beer-Chilling Secrets and Pickup on South Street (1953)

The Celluloid Pantry: Beer-Chilling Secrets and Pickup on South Street (1953)

Though the wallet and the summer are hot, the war and the beer are icy cold.

In Pickup on South Street (1953), career pickpocket (or "cannon") Skip McCoy (Richard Widmark) has "a knack for living in faraway places"—most notably a shack on the end of a pier overlooking New York City's East River. But this in no way stops him from enjoying cold beer at home.

He fashions a "refrigerator" out of a wooden crate, which he ties to the end of a rope and lowers into the chilly waters of the East River. Holes cut in the sides allow for drainage when raising the crate; a false bottom provides a good place to stash loot (including a pocket watch and some mysterious microfilm containing Commie-sensitive government secrets he inadvertently pickpockets).

When the Feds arrive looking for the microfilm, Skip is as cool as a cucumber. He quickly hides the goods and offers them a drink: "I got no electricity here, but the beer's always cold. Want one, Mac?"

But what if the East River doesn't get it cold enough for you? We usually go with the tried-and-true ice-and-water method, but we're reminded of a recent episode of Mythbusters, which tackled the problem of fast beer chilling, employing a variety of techniques, including plain ice; ice and water; ice, water, and salt; and CO2 from a fire extinguisher. Findings? The fire extinguisher was the pricey, messy, and therefore impractical winner at under one minute, but the ice, water, and salt combination came in a very respectable second, with a five-minute cooling time for one beer.

Tell us your favorite way to keep things chill.

- Nora

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