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39 Things to Love About Alabama: What is a Yellowhammer?

It’s a bird. It’s a tool. It’s A drink! No, it’s the Crimson Tide!

If you have ever chanted the “Rammer Jammer” cheer with a few thousand of your closest friends, it goes something like this:

“Hey Auburn! Hey Auburn! Hey Auburn!
We Just Beat the Hell Outta You!
Rammer Jammer Yellowhammer!
Give ‘em Hell, Alabama!”

But what exactly is a Yellowhammer?

It’s A Bird

First off, The Rammer-Jammer was a student magazine in the 1920s. The origin of that is a story for another day.

The yellowhammer is Alabama’s state bird. Also known as - oddly enough - the northern flicker or eastern yellow-shafted flicker, the yellowhammer is in the woodpecker family. The “yellow” part comes from the feather color on the underside the tail and underwings. The “hammer” part obviously comes from the woodpecker behavior of hammering their beaks at trees to get to food, build nests, and communicate with others. The species became the official state bird of Alabama in 1927.

It’s A Soldier

According to some sources, “The term yellowhammer was originally used to describe Confederate soldiers from Alabama who wore bright yellow cloth on their uniforms.” I choose to remain skeptical of this story.

It’s A Drink

About ten years ago, the University was pretty successful in covertly neutralizing the line of bars that covered the Strip on University Blvd. But one magnificent we-dont-need-a-sign-out-front hole-in-the-wall dive bar has survived the repeated aggressions from the pearl-clutchers. I don’t know if Gallettes invented the drink called the Yellowhammer (aka The Yellow Hammer Slammer), but they are famous for distributing oceans of them to thirsty students for decades. If you attended the University of Alabama, there is a good chance you still have one or two or 12 of their iconic yellow cups at home.

For do-it-yourselfers, here is an interpretation of this famous cocktail:

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 2 oz. rum
  • 1 oz. amaretto
  • 4 oz. orange juice
  • 7 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 handful ice
  1. Mix vodka, rum, Amaretto, orange juice and pineapple juice.
  2. Serve in a 20-ounce cup over ice.
  3. Garnish with cherries and an orange slice or two.

It’s A Way of Life

If you are a Crimson Tide fan, you love yelling this cheer at the top of your lungs after another foe has been vanquished. If are on the other side of the field, you probably hear it a lot and hate it. The choice is yours.