Today’s infographic is part 3 of a four-part series on the History of Addiction. The third part covers the period after World War Two through 1980.
Wednesday’s ad is for Blatz Beer, from 1945. It’s a simple ad showing an attractive woman glancing up at some mistletoe hanging above her, with an expectant expression on her face. But what I love in this ad is at the bottom, what is perhaps the best approach to not being the best-selling beer since Avis declared themselves to be number 2, insisting “we try harder.” Blatz marketed themselves as “Fast Becoming America’s Favorite.” Quite a lot of wiggle room in that one.
The other day while searching for an image of Pike’s Pale for my Lady Eve post, I happened upon a webpage of antique pinbacks, where Mark Lansdown displays his awesome collection of “vintage comic pinbacks from the 1890s to the 1950s.” What is a pinback? A pinback, or pin-back button, is one of those small buttons with a pucture or slogan on it that people wear on their short or on a hat. It’s fastened with a pin that’s in the back, and that’s why it’s called a pinback. Frankly, I’d always just called them buttons, but this is apparently the more official name for them. Over the years, they’ve been used for almost any promotional idea you could name. Political buttons, of course, but also for many others, for business, issue advocacy or just for fun. When I was younger, and lived back East, I used to frequent yard sales, flea markets and antique shows and amassed a show box full of antique pinbacks without really trying. That, and I used to work in the record business (back when there still were records) and buttons were a common feature of the music landscape. But because they’re relatively inexpensive, lots of people collect them seriously, and you can find out more at pinbacks.com, Legacy Americana or Buttonpalooza. Or read a short history at Zippy Pins or People Power Press.
So, the “I’m the Guy” series of pinbacks were created in the 1910s as a promotion for Hassan Cigarettes, who apparently created many different pinback series over the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The pinbacks were used as promotional giveaways or premiums when people bought their cigarettes. According to one source, the “I’m the Guy” phrase was coined by the famous humorist Rube Goldberg circa 1910. Apparently, “this was a stock saying by a character in a comic strip Goldberg drew. The phrase became very popular, and Goldberg elaborated it over time. He was even co-author of a song entitled ‘I’m the Guy,’ whose lyrics were largely comprised of variations on this catchphrase.” You can see tons more of the I’m the Guy pinbacks, but three of them were decidedly beer-themed and are displayed below. Enjoy.
If you saw my post from this morning about Beer Sales Dropping. The original story mentioned nine brands that have, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights, “declined by more than 25% over the past five years.” 24/7 Wall St. listed the Nine Beers Americans No Longer Drink. They are:
- 9. Labatt Blue — Sales loss (2007-2012): 28.3%
- 8. Budweiser — Sales loss (2007-2012): 28.8%
- 7. Heineken Premium Light — Sales loss (2007-2012): 36.7%
- 6. Milwaukee’s Best Light — Sales loss (2007-2012): 39.7%
- 5. Old Milwaukee — Sales loss (2007-2012): 54.0%
- 4. Miller Genuine Draft — Sales loss (2007-2012): 56.4%
- 3. Milwaukee’s Best Premium — Sales loss (2007-2012): 58.5%
- 2. Budweiser Select — Sales loss (2007-2012): 61.5%
- 1. Michelob Light — Sales loss (2007-2012): 69.6%
Monday’s ad is for Miller High Life, from the 1950s. Even though I grew up in the “tradition-rich East” Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, having been in California for almost thirty years I’m a tad offended at Miller’s implication that there’s no traditions out West. But given that odd holiday spread that the lady in red is putting out, I’m not so sure about her having a “special touch of gracious elegance.”
My good friend Pete Slosberg sent me this gem, from the classic film The Lady Eve, written and directed by Preston Sturges. The 1941 screwball comedy starred Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck. I remember seeing it when I was a kid (I watched a lot of old movies late at night when I was young) but I certainly don’t remember this beery exchange. One of the main characters is Charles Pike, played by Henry Fonda, and in the story he’s the heir to the Pike Brewing Co. fortune, maker’s of Pike’s Pale, “The Ale That Won For Yale.”
The clip below is about four minutes long, but the conversation doesn’t steer to beer until around the 2:00 minute mark, and lasts for just over a minute.
I’ve also transcribed their beery dialogue from The Lady Eve below. Enjoy.
Stanwyck: “I thought you were in the beer business.”
Fonda: “Beer? … Ale!”
Stanwyck: “What’s the difference?”
Fonda: “Between beer and ale?”
Fonda: “My father’d burst a blood vessel if he heard you say that. There’s a big difference. Ale’s sort of fermented on the top or something, and beer’s fermented on the bottom; or maybe it’s the other way around. There’s no similarity at all. [pauses] See the trouble with being descended from a brewer, no matter how long ago he brewed it, or whatever you call it, you’re supposed to know all about something you don’t give a hoot about. [pauses again] It’s funny to be here kneeling at your feet, talking about beer. You see, I don’t like beer. Bock beer, lager beer or steam beer.”
Stanwyck: “Don’t you?”
Fonda: “I do not, and I don’t like pale ale, brown ale, nut brown ale, porter or stout, which makes me ill just to think about it. [hiccups] Excuse me. [pauses again] It was enough so that everybody called me ‘Hopsy’ ever since I was six-years old … Hopsy Pike.”
Stanwyck: “Hello, Hopsy.”
Fonda: “Make it Charlie, will you?”
Stanwyck: [laughs] “Alright, but there’s something kinda cute about Hopsy. And when you got older I could call you Popsy. Hopsy Popsy.”
Fonda: “That’s all I’d need.”