I turned the North Carolina portion of this post into a piece for the Winston-Salem Journal. The Georgia section remains below.
In Georgia, where I lived 10 years before moving to North Carolina, the state Department of Revenue oversees alcohol sales through its Alcohol and Tobacco Division.
"There is no State law or regulation requiring merchants to put alcohol in any kind of bag," Carter Leverette, the division's assistant chief of operations, said in an e-mail. "Cities and counties may have local ordinances that require that alcohol be bagged."
There are 159 counties and more than 500 municipalities in Georgia, and I only checked with Bibb County, where I used to live. No such law, according to Bibb County Sheriff's Office Spokesman Sgt. Sean DeFoe.
Maybe it's a small thing. Probably just a silly custom, born of the notion that it's OK to drink, as long as you hide it. But think of all those wasted plastic and paper bags, used simply because someone thinks they have to.