When College Students Invent: The Case of Beer Bongs

Every year, I teach the production possibility frontier in terms of the two outputs that students can produce-fun and learning. To introduce technical progress, I ask for examples, first sector-specific progress, then general improvements in technology.

This year’s students came up with an example of technical progress in the fun sector-the beer bong. Apparently students attach a funnel to a keg of beer, attach a tube to the funnel and are able to ingest more beer more rapidly than before. Unfortunately, I guess this does increase “fun,” at least as defined by some students. It enables them to get drunk more rapidly, releasing time for learning (assuming they can sober up quickly)!


Don't knock it until you've tried it, professor.

Bongs away.

Someone should invent a Tea bong to funnel knowledge more quickly into their Party's thick skulls.

Bong Along

How would you attach a funnel to a keg? If that kind of bong exists, why have I been wasting my time with single beers?!


You don't attach a funnel to a keg. You attach a tube to a funnel, put the tube in your mouth/throat, and pour beer into the funnel. The idea is that you hardly have to swallow. While disgusting, it's not surprising college kids are stoked about it.

Steve S.

Some bars offer discounts for "shotgunned" beers (when you drink beer from a can AND with a selfmade hole somewhere on the side of the can). Despite this incentive (the reduced price), people still shy away from the practice. Not sure why, as it can also release some time to be allocated toward studying.


lol, the device you describe is not what that term refers to. It refers to an equally idiotic device, but definitely not this one.


i think lager goggles are more metabolically interesting!?


Sorry, Professor--generally, beer bongs (or just funnels, in some areas) aren't attached to a keg. It's just a funnel, a tube, and some sort of fastener (I've seen everything from duct tape to hair scrunchies used). You can buy the materials at any home improvement store and make your own, or you can buy a premade one at stores like Spenser's Gifts, or win one at carnivals/boardwalks/etc.

You cannot be serious

I'm completely appalled that this is an allowed post on this blog. Not only did I not learn anything from this, but it is also not factual. I'm not usually one to critcize and I've never posted a comment here before after having read this blog for a long time.

The freakonomics blog needs to have a serious sitdown with itself and decide what it wants to be. I don't think many would be too proud of this post.

Ian Kemmish

I can hardly wait for "beerboarding"


Beer bongs have existed for at least 20 to 30 years if not longer...

Another David

Improvement on the beer bong: the beer bongtopus - a beer bong with anywhere from four to eight tubes, allowing anywhere from four to eight people to get drunk at the same time, instead of wasting time taking turns. Even faster, so they have even more time to study.

Ry Jones

Nobody is going to bring up eyeballing vodka?


Beer bongs are hardly new. In fact, nearly as old as ivory towers. The first ones were almost certainly invented by high school drop-outs.


Beer bongs are by no means new - a classic fraternity item which range from garden hose and a funnel to customized, colored and/or logo emblazzened drinking machines for 6 or more people. Also, they traditionally do not involve a keg but rather just pour beer into the end of the funnel while holding the end of the tube higher than the level of beer.


Daniel cracks me up, written like a true professor


my favorite is the "gravity bong" used for smoking weed. It involves complex engineering and an understanding of the physical properties of smoke, air and water. You take a 2-litre plastic soda pop container, cut off the bottom and install a smoking pipe "bowl" at the top. You submerge the bottle into a bathtub full of water. Then, you load the bowl with weed and hold a flame over the bowl, while slowly lifting the bottle out of the water. This draws the flame over the weed and fills the bottle with smoke. You stop when the bottle is filled with smoke yet still slightly submerged. Then, you remove the bowl, exhale, and inhale while pressing the bottle back into the water. This forces the smoke into the lungs with increased pressure.


I do recall, barely, my days as an undergrad where we broke out the bong, (funnel, long hose to reach down the stairs and valve). 4 beers in one swoosh was rather common.


I strongly doubt that anyone choosing to imbibe via beer bong will have more study time than a control.

By getting their drinking done sooner, they probably will have more time to socialize at the party, though.


Professor Hamermesh neglected to say where they inserted the tube. About 50 years ago I read that alcohol is absorbed through the intestinal wall much more rapidly than through the stomach. So if the point is to get drunk more rapidly...