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Michigan Says It's OK to Put a Photo of a Baby on a Beer Label

Breakfast Stout, a beer that is produced by Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewery Co., features a retro-looking, bib-enwrapped baby slurping something that looks like oatmeal out of a bowl.
Photo via Flickr user Chris Goldberg

Some may feel it is akin to mother's milk, but beer has never before come this close to being the stuff fed to wide-eyed bouncing babes.

Breakfast Stout, a beer that is produced by Grand Rapids-based Founders Brewery Co, features a retro-looking, bib-enwrapped baby slurping something that looks like oatmeal out of a bowl. The unusual labeling caused the beer to be pulled from shelves back in August—one place replaced the missing bottles with a picture of an empty chair with a note that the child had "left the crib for a bit." But don't worry party people—the baby is now back.

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The whole gang is here. ICYMI: the baby's back on our Michigan label! https://t.co/rkvYu18j4G pic.twitter.com/KcGqFQrjQK

— Founders Brewing Co. (@foundersbrewing) December 23, 2015

The problem arose when the Michigan Liquor Control Commission discovered that the label hadn't been registered with the state, even though the beer had been sold for more than a decade. The brewery was fined $300 and bottles were pulled, but just from the brewers' taproom and not from physical store shelves.

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Founders Brewing Co claims that it got a lot of voicemails—1,800 by its count—in response to the iconic product being pulled. But now all is good: "He's feelin' the love and happy to be back on the iconic label," the brewery says.

Our boy is back! The baby has returned to the Breakfast Stout label in MI after receiving 1,800+ voicemails: https://t.co/rkvYu18j4G — Founders Brewing Co. (@foundersbrewing) December 22, 2015

All of this begs the questions: How did Founders Brewing Co get away with their unregistered baby label for so damn long? We're not exactly sure, to be honest. On both a federal and state level, there are stringent rules pertaining to alcohol labeling. In addition to classification by alcohol content, beer must be labeled by class or type. The label has to be readable and it can't make false statements. Labeling also can't be obscene or tasteless, which can be pretty hard to avoid when you are marketing a product that is designed to get people totally shit-faced.

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If you are looking to get an idea of the countless hoops brewers have to jump through in order to actually get their products on store shelves, look no further then the legend that is Kent "Battle" Martin. From 2004 until his retirement in May of 2015, Battle was basically solely responsible for accepting or rejecting labels as the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau's Malt Beverage Labeling Specialist.

According to an interview conducted by The Daily Beast, Battle is "the king of beer. His will is law." Not convinced? He allegedly once rejected a label with a hamburger on it because he felt it implied that there were meat additives in the beer.

It seems that we can breathe a collective sigh of relief with the news that Founders once again has the OK from the state for its tyke-themed logo. The brewery began shipping out their Breakfast Stout beers with the original baby logo at the start of December.