The places we remember from our childhood enter the archeology of every generation in curious and some times quite public ways – like the fading advertisements on the sides of old buildings. Some of these vintage ads have been preserved owing to the buildings that were constructed next to them; when the newer buildings are torn down, the old signs are revealed.
What is remarkable about these murals is that they’ve been left relatively untouched by graffiti, almost as if they radiate an aura of protection and respect. One peers into the past, one’s own and the past of those that came before us. It is a haunting experience at times.
I often think of them as unusual visual poems that succinct express and contain memories that have lingered, waiting for some silent acknowlegement from us to temporarily revivify them. The door in the wall of the Cany Kitchen, like Hesse’s entrance for the mad in Steppenwolf. Each on its way evokes some shred of lived experience, and if we can’t quite place exactly what that experience is we can nevertheless understand how time itself works to move each story ever closer to forgetfulness.
Many years ago, the Australian poet and graophic artist, Richard Tipping, published an unusual collection of photographs entitled Signs of Australia. I recommend it to readers and viewers of this curious archeological phenonmenon that businesses and businessmen have left beind> many of the companies that advertised their wares with promises of refreshment and bubbly excitement no longer exist… and there has always seemed to me to be a poignant irony about the promises we make, assuring ourselves and others with the dream of durability and popularity in a world where fame is itself “the last great infirmity of the soul”.
So here is a brief trip down my personal memory lane as represented by a few childhood icons of the once- and some times continuing popular culture.
It’s one thing to find national brands such as Coke, Pepsi, or RC, but it is an entirely different thing to find a local brand painted on a wall. This is Rhythm Punch (above) – a grape soda produced only by the Sun-Rise Bottling Company located in Tazewell, VA. This sign is on both sides of the building.
Coke might have been the pause that refreshes, but Squirt, if the advertising can be believed, quenches quicker.
Jet “hits the spot” in Texas in the 1950s – my favorite beverage when I was ten, living at Randolph Field in San Antonio, where my father was a colonel in the Air Force. This was my my friends and I drank in the summer time, usually after the weekly Little League game. The company made both raspberry and grape flavours, but I tended to favour the red one (above). When I think about it now it’s a wonder I survived all that sugar… or did I?
Royal Crown Cola was the drink no one drank – no one I knew anyway. It was also the drink everyone secretly wished would topple Coke. Problem was it didn’t have the same kind of advertising reach that Coke, and even Pepsi had. Royal Crown was basically a southern soft drink. Looking at this picture I remember how we sometimes used to scavange emoty bottles to collect the bottle return fee, which was about 2 cents per bottles. Dream on!
For while – in the very early 60s – Pepsi became my favorite drink.,, but it didn’t stay that way for long. By the time I was in my last two years of high, I’d graduated to iced tea.
- 1798 The term “soda water” is first coined.
- 1810 First U.S. patent is issued for the manufacture of imitation mineral waters.
- 1819 The “soda fountain” is patented by Samuel Fahnestock.
- 1835 The first bottled soda water is available in the U.S.
- 1850 A manual, hand & foot operated, filling & corking device, is first used for bottling soda water.
- 1851 Ginger ale is created in Ireland
- 1861 The term “pop” is first coined.
- 1874 The first ice-cream soda is sold.
- 1876 Root beer is mass produced for public sale.
- 1881 The first cola-flavored beverage is introduced.
- 1885 Charles Aderton invented “Dr Pepper” in Waco, Texas.
- 1886 “Coca-Cola” is invented in Atlanta, Georgia by Dr. John S. Pemberton.
- 1892 The crown bottle cap is invented by William Painter.
- 1898 “Pepsi-Cola” is invented by Caleb Bradham.
- 1899 The first patent is issued for a glass blowing machine, used to produce glass bottle.
- 1913 Gas motored trucks replace horse drawn carriages as delivery vehicles.
- 1919 The American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages is formed.
- 1920 The U.S. Census reports that more than 5,000 bottlers now exist.
- Early 1920’s The first automatic vending machines dispense sodas into cups.
- 1923 Six-pack soft drink cartons called “Hom-Paks” are created.
- 1929 The Howdy Company debuted it’s new drink “Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Sodas” later called “7 Up”. Invented by Charles Leiper Grigg.
- 1934 Applied color labels are first used on soft drink bottles. The coloring was baked on the face of the bottle
- 1952 The first diet soft drink is sold called the “No-Cal Beverage”.
- 1957 The first aluminum cans are used.
- 1959 The first diet cola is sold.
- 1962 The pull-ring tab is invented.
- 1965 Is the first time soft drinks in cans are dispensed from vending machines.
- 1965 The resealable top is invented.
- 1966 The American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages is renamed The National Soft Drink Association.
- 1970 Is first time plastic bottles are used for soft drinks.
- 1973 The PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) bottle is created.
- 1974 The stay-on tab is invented.
- 1981 The “talking” vending machine is invented.