Monday’s ad is Miller Lite, from 1982. Today is also the birthday of Mr. Baseball, Bob Uecker, who arguably was at least partially responsible for the success of lower-calorie diet beers with his wildly successful ads for the beer in the 1980s. It was a marvel of modern advertising and I’m still amazed to this day that it worked in convincing people to drink an even more watered-down version of the macro lagers of the day. But Uecker was certainly great in the ads, and I loved him in the “Major League” movies, too.
Sunday’s ad is yet another one for Budweiser, this time from the 1970s. While the ad, or sign, is from the Seventies, I suspect that the image is most likely much older, possibly from the late 19th century. But the decoupage sign? That’s pure 1970s. Even my mom got caught up in the craft craze, decoupaging all manner of do-dads when I was a kid. So this would have seemed right at home in that decade.
Tonight, many fans of the Scottish poet Robert Burns, will celebrate Burns Night with a meal of Haggis, Scotch Whisky and a night of poetry reading. Though Burns was apparently a whisky drinker, I feel confident saying he probably also drank beer and there are plenty of ways you could incorporate beer and whisky into your evening. I nominate for your poetry recitation, Burns’ version of the popular folksong John Barleycorn, which is believed to have originated sometime in the 16th century. Burns wrote his in 1782, and because of his fame, is one the most oft quoted versions. Here’s how I summarized it in a post about John Barleycorn a few years ago:
Primarily an allegorical story of death, resurrection and drinking, the main character—the eponymous John Barleycorn—is the personification of barley who is attacked and made to suffer indignities and eventually death. These correspond roughly to the stages of barley growing and cultivation, like reaping and malting. Some scholars see the story as pagan, representing the ideology of the cycles of nature, spirits and the pagan harvest, and possibly even human sacrifice. After John Barleycorn’s death, he is resurrected as beer, bread and whisky. Some have also compared it to the Christian transubstantiation, since his body is eaten as bread and drank as beer.
There were three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.
They took a plough and ploughed him down,
Put clods upon his head;
An’ they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.
But the cheerfu’ spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surprised them all.
The sultry suns of summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel armed wi’ pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.
The sober autumn entered mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Showed he began to fail.
His colour sickened more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
They’ve ta’en a weapon long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgelled him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turned him o’er and o’er.
They filled up a darksome pit
With water to the brim;
They heaved in John Barleycorn,
There let him sink or swim.
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him farther woe,
And still, as signs of life appeared,
They tossed him to and fro.
They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller used him worst of all,
For he crushed him ‘tween two stones.
And they hae ta’en his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise;
‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy:
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!
Today in 1876, US Patent 172687 A was issued, an invention of Louis Baeppler, for his “Improvement in Beer-Coolers.” There’s no Abstract, but the description includes this:
My invention relates to an apparatus which maybe readily applied to a keg or barrel of any description, so as to cool the beer after it leaves the barrel.
The invention consists of an ice-chamber, provided with an opening at the bottom for the insertion of a cock to be attached to the lower end of the cooling-coil, and an opentopped slot at the top for the insertion and removal of the upper end of the coil, and a cover for closing said chamber, as hereinafter described and shown.
Saturday’s ad is another one for Budweiser, this time from 1936. While the ad is shortly after the end of prohibition, and I can only imagine beer lovers were pretty excited to once more be able to legally buy beer, I’m still not convinced Bud’s success had anything to with “age-old taste.” Also, as the ad suggests, when did Anheuser-Busch employ monks?
Friday’s ad is for Budweiser, from 1943. This World War 2 ad, while people were rationing, wants to ensure you get all of your B vitamins so you can keep on working or fighting. The imagery is fairly surreal, with a planet-sized clock with a ramp of working people lined up around it, creating a Saturn-like appearance. At the end of the line is a soldier, sailor, a construction worker who brings his own sledgehammer with him, a female member of the military, a farmer, another soldier with a pack on his back, a businessman, and so on ad infinitum. And the ad isn’t even about beer, but the brewer’s yeast which they supply to pharmaceutical companies who in turn use it to make Vitamin B pills. Yay yeast!
Wednesday’s ad is for Guinness, from 1960. Showing a man playing golf, suggesting he could play better by keeping “a Guinness in mind!” But I guess that only holds true for men, and not just any men, but just the tough ones, as the ad copy makes clear. “But for muscular men … who work hard, play hard, live hard … this is it.” And apparently it’s been that way for awhile now. “For 200 years now , this dark Irish brew has been the masculine man’s preference. Frankly, it is not for everyone. But vigorous, vital men are vehement that Guinness stout has the secret of the cool refreshment they need.”
Tuesday’s ad is another one for Schlitz, from 1936. Between the recipe for “Famous Schlitz Rarebit” and the man pouring a little Schlitz into whatever that dish is — soup, dip, etc. — it’s clear that Schlitz is cooking with beer. Based on the look on his face, I’d say he’s had a few beers before the guests are even due to arrive. And his wife in the shiny blue dress looks like she’s been keeping up, and is bringing in the next round. It’s going to be a great dinner party!