Engaging with an artist beyond their art—that is to say, being a fan—is always kind of crazy. Art is subjective and eternal and ownable; the people who make it are precisely none of those things, and ultimately disappointing because of it. But to be a superfan of Hanson, a boy band now twenty years out from their singular hit, 1997’s “MMMBop” is, I know, super crazy
But hear me out. For some of us, Hanson is not just a band.
Hanson is a community of like-minded lovers who watch regular livestreams from the brothers’ Oklahoma recording studio and then descend on their hometown of Tulsa for Hanson Day. Hanson is a hobby: you can play a Monopoly knockoff called Hansonopoly and eat Hanson-branded chocolates, wear jewelry designed by the brothers, and dress your babies in Hanson rompers.
That is why I found myself, almost thirty years old, tenuously employed as a freelance writer, driving a full hour to pick up two six-packs of Mmmhops—Hanson’s flagship beer, launched in 2013— that I had paid sixty dollars to ship to a FedEx center in Los Angeles. This is how the band has lasted out the decades between “MMMBop” and Mmmhops: by making sure their fans are always imagining we’re getting closer to them, and continually willing to pay for the privilege.
How’s the beer? It’s good! Mmmhops is a great pun, but a misleading name. The beer relies more heavily on the “toasted malt signature” than the bitterness of a hop-heavy brew. There’s a little bit of citrus in there, too, to cut the sweetness; it’s a nice, casual, sippable situation. It tastes like, well, beer. “I like it better than PBR,” one of my friends said. Then she asked me to turn off music I’d put on for the occasion—Hanson’s Christmas masterpiece, Snowed In.
Should you drink this beer if you’re not a Hanson fan? Sure! Honestly, why not? People who go on beer websites to rate beers seem to agree that it’s reasonably tasty: “Flavor delivers on the malt aroma with a sweet malt front, pecan-like middle and a fruity and bittersweet subtle hop finish… Overall a malty, tasty, very un-trendy pale ale in my opinion, more of a traditional ESB on the high end of the gravity scale,” says BrewAskew on Beeradvocate.
You may not want to pay forty dollars to ship it to yourself, but if you’re in Chicago, Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Kansas City, St. Louis, Lawrence, or at Disney’s Epcot Center, you can pick it up at retail stores and even sometimes in bars.
Because really, why do we buy things at all? Beyond paper towels and produce, the reasons get fuzzy, and fuzzier still when you add celebrity into the equation. We’re constantly reminded of our faves’ lifestyles, and invited to be a part of them by buying something tangentially related to why we like them. It’s a gesture that brings us no closer to our idols, that yields almost no information about them, except that they’ve found another way to sell us back our love for them—but somehow, if you love the celeb in question enough, this does not stop it from being really, really fun to do.