Monday’s ad is for Carling’s Red Cap Ale, from the 1960s or 70s. It was created by well-known cartoonist Jack Davis, who co-founded Mad Magazine. I’m not quite sure what “Canadian tradition” he’s talking about, but it may involve everyone, even inanimate objects and animals.
But it’s not too late. There are nine more days until Xmas, plenty of time to pick up your own ugly beer sweater. I found at least thirty different beer-themed ones. You can see them all in the slideshow below. A few of them are t-shirts meant to mimic a sweater, but since their in the same spirit, I’ve included them, as well. Enjoy.
How did I not know about this before? Although it’s not about beer, it is about goats, which is close enough for me. Apparently for the last fifty years Sweden has had their own version of a burning man (sort of), although for them it’s a Gävlebocken, or “Gävle goat.” It’s essentially “a traditional Christmas display erected annually at Slottstorget in central Gävle, Sweden. It is a giant version of a traditional Swedish Yule Goat figure made of straw. It is erected each year at the beginning of Advent over a period of two days by local community groups.”
Here’s the basic history, from Wikipedia:
The Gävle Goat is erected every year on the first day of Advent, which according to Western Christian tradition is in late November or early December, depending on the calendar year. In 1966, an advertising consultant, Stig Gavlén, came up with the idea of making a giant version of the traditional Swedish Yule Goat and placing it in the square. The design of the first goat was assigned to the then chief of the Gävle fire department, Gavlén’s brother Jörgen Gavlén. The construction of the goat was carried out by the fire department, and they erected the goat each year from 1966 to 1970 and from 1986 to 2002. The first goat was financed by Harry Ström. On 1 December 1966, a 13-metre (43 ft) tall, 7-metre (23 ft) long, 3-tonne goat was erected in the square. On New Year’s Eve, the goat was burnt down, and the perpetrator was found and convicted of vandalism. The goat was insured, and Ström got all of his money back.
And vandalism of the goat has also become part and parcel of the legend each year. Even the Wikipedia page includes a chart of how long the goat lasted each year. Some years, like 2014, it lasted throughout the holiday season and into January. But even then, there were three attempts by arsonists. It’s actually only made it all the way to January intact a dozen times, and one of those years with some damage. This year, it only made it one day, and was burned down on November 27.
A tourist website for the town of Gävle, VisitGävle, with facts about “the world’s largest straw goat.”
The peculiar story about the Gävle Goat started in 1966. A man named Stig Gavlén came up with the idea to design a giant version of the traditional Swedish Christmas straw goat. The objective was to attract customers to the shops and restaurants in the southern part of the city. On the first Sunday of Advent 1966, the huge goat was placed at the Castle Square. Since then, the Gävle Goat has been a Christmas symbol placed in the same spot every year. Today it’s world famous. The goat is the world’s largest straw goat and made it to the Guinness Book of Records for the first time in 1985.
Worth knowing about the Gavle Goat
- The Gävle Goat is 13 metres (42.6 feet) high, seven metres long and weighs 3.6 tonnes.
- It takes a whole truck full of straw from the local village of Mackmyra to create the goat.
- 1600 meters of rope is used.
- 12,000 knots are tied.
- 56 five metre straw mats form the straw coat.
- 1200 metres of Swedish pine create the wooden skeleton.
- 1000 man-hours of work are needed to build the Gävle Goat.
- The Gävle Goat is inaugurated on the first Sunday of Advent every year, in conjunction with the “skyltsöndagen”.
- The Gävle Goat has friends in more than 120 countries around the world that follow it in social media.
- In 2015, 420 000 people visited the Gävle Goat, dressed in a flower coat, when it was on tour in the Chinese twin town of Zhuhai.
- The Gavle Goat has been hit by a cruising car and been subjected to fire and sabotage over the years.
- Staged hacker attacks and kidnappings have also been planned.
Visit Gävle adds. “You can follow the Gävle Goat from the first Sunday of Advent until after New Year or until the sad day that it meets its notorious fate.” For that purpose, they’ve set up a webcam where anyone can keep an eye on the goat, although this year it’s already too late. On the plus side, that’s how they were able to capture it burning on film.
Today is the day when Steamboat Willie debuted in 1928, the first Mickey Mouse cartoon, the one that made the Disney company the entertainment powerhouse that it is today. But even though Steamboat Willie is the famous one, it actually wasn’t the first Mickey Mouse cartoon created. Plane Crazy was actually the first one made, and The Gallopin’ Gaucho was the second, but both were shelved to work on Steamboat Willie, and specifically to add a synchronized soundtrack, which is what helped make Mickey Mouse so famous. A couple of years ago, I posted Mickey Mouse Drinking A Beer, about when Mickey is seen drinking a beer in “The Gallopin’ Gaucho.”
So for Mickey Mouse’s birthday this year, I thought I’d show a different cartoon, this one a little later, from 1932. It’s maybe the 46th Mickey Mouse cartoon, called “Mickey in Arabia.” There are plenty of racial stereotypes in the cartoon, sadly typical for 1932. And while Mickey doesn’t actually drink in this one, the camel that he and Minnie ride does drink some from a barrel.
After Minnie is abducted by a sultan and rides off on his camel, Mickey runs back to his camel, who’s apparently been drinking beer the entire time and is obviously inebriated.
So first he has to chase the drunk camel.
Finally, catching the camel, now he has to chase after the sultan, who’s taken Minnie.
And riding a drunk camel is no picnic.
The drunk camel even passes out at one point but continues on running upside down on its humps!
Below is the whole cartoon, the relevant beer barrel drinking takes place just after 1:30 into the 7-minute video.
Several weeks ago, while researching the birthday of Pennsylvania brewer Henry Fink, I happened upon the advertising poster below. Intrigued, because I’m fascinated with symbols, I couldn’t make out what they were because the largest image I could find is this one. All I could figure out at the time was that it had something to do with a song.
Eventually I gave up, and moved on, because if I’m not careful I’ll keep going off on tangents and down rabbit holes until I’ve gotten myself well and truly lost, not to mention wasted hours of unproductive time. But I kept coming back to it, and eventually, I had to figure out what exactly it was or go crazy. So I started taking a closer look into the poster and figured out that they’re all over the place and it’s a famous German song called the “Schnitzelbank.” And the Fink’s ad poster, or versions of it, is everywhere and has been used by breweries, restaurants and others for years. Which makes sense because, although it’s a “German-language ditty for children and popular among German Americans with an interest in learning or teaching German to their offspring,” it’s also commonly sung by adults for entertainment and nostalgia, and usually while they’re drinking beer.
In German, Schnitzelbank apparently “literally means ‘scrap bench’ or ‘chip bench’ (from Schnitzel ‘scraps / clips / cuttings (from carving)’ or the colloquial verb schnitzeln “to make scraps” or “to carve” and Bank “bench”); like the Bank, it is feminine and takes the article “die”. It is a woodworking tool used in Germany prior to the industrial revolution. It was in regular use in colonial New England, and in the Appalachian region until early in the 20th century; it is still in use by specialist artisans today. In America it is known as a shaving horse. It uses the mechanical advantage of a foot-operated lever to securely clamp the object to be carved. The shaving horse is used in combination with the drawknife or spokeshave to cut down green or seasoned wood, to accomplish jobs such as handling an ax; creating wooden rakes, hay forks, walking sticks, etc. The shaving horse was used by various trades, from farmer to basketmaker and wheelwright.”
And that’s also why the posters always include a Schnitzelbank, because in addition to it being the title, it’s also how the song begins.
Here’s one description of the Schnitzelbank song:
A Schnitzelbank is also a short rhyming verse or song with humorous content, often but not always sung with instrumental accompaniment. Each verse in a Schnitzelbank introduces a topic and ends with a comedic twist. This meaning of the word is mainly used in Switzerland and southwestern Germany; it is masculine and takes the article “der”. It is a main element of the Fasnacht celebrations in the city of Basel, where it is also written Schnitzelbangg. Schnitzelbänke (pl.) are also sung at weddings and other festivities by the Schitzelbänkler, a single person or small group. Often the Schnitzelbänkler will display posters called Helgen [which is “hello” in German] during some verses that depict the topic but do not give away the joke.
Often the songleader uses the poster to lead people in the song, pointing to the symbols as they come up in the lyrics, as this photo from the Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Lodge illustrates.
The song uses call and response, with the leader singing one lyric, and the chorus repeating it back as it goes along. So here’s what the traditional version of the song sounds like:
Some Sauerkraut with Your Schnitzelbank? has an interesting reminiscence of a visit to a Fasching Sonntag in the St. Louis area around 1982, and includes his experience taking part in the singing of the Schnitzelbank song.
In the evening, everyone moved upstairs to the parish hall, which was the typical multipurpose gymnasium with a stage at one end. Set up with long tables in parallel rows on both sides, the band in place on the stage, and the large crowd ready for the music to begin, the hall had lost its bland, bare, everyday atmosphere. On the stage, off to one side, was a large easel with a poster on it. I didn’t pay much attention to it, thinking it was for announcements later in the evening. The band started, and the dancing began in the clear space down the middle of the hall, mostly polkas and waltzes, with a few variety numbers like the dreaded Duck Dance, which explained the need for pitchers of beer. Finally, when the crowd was well exercised and well lubricated, someone approached the easel with a pointer in his hand. People started shouting “Schnitzelbank! Schnitzelbank!” The music began, and the person with the pointer called “Ist das nicht ein Schnitzelbank?” and the crowd heartily responded “Ja, das ist ein Schnitzelbank!” Then came a chorus of music, to which everyone sang, “O Die Schoenheit un der Vand, da das ist ein Schnitzelbank.” And so it continued for several verses, the person on stage pointing to another object on the poster with “Ist das nicht ein.…?” and the crowd responding at the top of their voices. I was puzzled at first, but eventually joined in and didn’t think much more about it. I’m pretty sure that only a few people knew all the German words, and that some had memorized it over the years, while the ones in front were close enough to the poster to read the words under the pictures—everyone else just shouted a cheerful approximation of what they thought their neighbor was saying.
The Schnitzelbank, or Schnitzel Bank, is a song with short verses, meant to be sung the way it was at the Fasching Sonntag, with a leader and group response. It is sung in some areas of Germany for Fasching, Fastnacht, or Karnival, and also during Oktoberfest, and other occasions where there is a happy, celebratory crowd. In America, the posters are displayed at a few German restaurants and some tourist attractions with a German American heritage, such as the Amana Colonies in Iowa and some Pennsylvania Dutch locations. Singing the Schnitzelbank in America dates at least to the turn of the 20th century, which is when the John Bardenheier Wine and Liquor Company printed its version on an advertising poster.
According to “The Book of World-Famous Music: Classical, Popular, and Folk,” first published in 1966, the melody first appeared in 1761 by a French composer and lyrics were written a few years later, n 1765, and it was known as “Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman,” but it became far more well-known as “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep” in subsequent years. Apparently it first appeared as “Schnitzelbank” in 1830.
This is the most common version of the poster, and as far as I can tell the symbols have become more or less fixed sometime in the mid-20th century. Perhaps it’s because one company is licensing the imagery to various purposes, or the song has simply evolved to its modern form, made easier by recordings and a growing number of shared experiences.
So let’s break down the most common version of the song:
Here’s another band performing the song. This is the Gootman Sauerkraut Band at the Bravarian Pretzel Factory 2014.
As I mentioned, this all started because a brewery used the Schnitzelbank poster as an advertisement. Apparently that was not unique, and I’ve find a number of others who did likewise. Here’s a few of them:
Drewery’s, the Canadian brewery, from the 1940s.
This one, though not for a specific brewery, was for Sitter’s Beverages, a distributor of beer, wine, liquor and cordials in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. It’s undated, but given that the telephone number is “1917” (yes, just those four numbers) I suspect it’s pre-prohibition. One source puts the date between 1912 and 1919.
The Pearl Brewery of San Antonio, Texas
Jacob Ruppert’s Brewery of New York City, 1907. Though notice that the almost uniform symbols were changed for Ruppert’s ad, substituting his own beer and brewery, along with other more beer-friendly items into the song list.
Although it’s possible that the symbols weren’t quite as settled in the early 20th century, as this postcard, also from 1907, has several that deviate from the standard symbols, including some also in the Ruppert’s poster, but also some that are not in that one.
Yuengling Brewery also apparently had their own Schnitzelbank poster, based on the Ruppert’s design. This one is a linen towel being used as a window shade, though it’s too small for me to read the date.
Though the Ruppert’s design appears to be copyrighted again in 1934, based on this generic one found by someone in an antique store.
Likewise, this one for Falstaff Beer uses the traditional symbols, but adds two more, one for “Gutes Bier” (good beer) and “Falstaff Here.”
This one’s also not from a brewery, but the Alpine Village Inn in Las Vegas, Nevada. This one’s newer, as it opened in 1950, became somewhat famous, but then closed in 1970.
This one is labeled as being a “Pennsylvania Dutch Schnitzelbank” and has 20 symbols rather than the standard sixteen. And only eight of those are the usual ones. I don’t know how I missed it growing up (I grew up near Pennsylvania Dutch country in Pennsylvania, and in fact my grandparents grew up on Mennonite farms, but were the first generation to leave them).
Apparently it’s also a big deal in Amana, Iowa, where there’s a gift and toy store called the “Schnitzelbank” and where, in 1973, the Amana Society created this Schnitzelbank poster.
The Schnitzelbank Restaurant in Jasper, Indiana, uses the poster as their placemats.
This random German poster, which translates as “Oh you beautiful Schnitzelbank” has only about half of the standard symbols on it. I’m not sure when this one was created but it’s available on Polka Time as an “Oktoberfest Poster.”
And speaking of music, Marv Herzog used the poster on an album cover. The album, of course, included the Schnitzelbank song.
And lastly, the Animanics did their own version of the Schnitzelbank song in episode 56 entitled “Schnitzelbank,” which aired in 1994. It’s described as “a traditional German song that the Warners learn in German from Prof. Otto von Schnitzelpusskrankengescheitmeyer. The lyrics were adapted by Randy Rogel.”
Today in 1958, US Patent 2855969A was issued, an invention of Edward Fitch, for his “Ladies’ Handbag” (Shaped Like A Keg). There’s no Abstract, although in the description it includes these claims:
This invention relates to a novel handbag for use by women and girls and has reference to a handbag which is original in that it is constructed to represent a miniature barrel.
Needless to say, handbags are designed and constructed in almost every conceivable shape and form. Current trends have, however, led to styles which are in representation of boxes, baskets, and all sorts of rigid type containers. With a view toward extending and enhancing the appearance of uniquely styled handbags, it is an object in the present matter to embark on a newer line of thought. To this end, the instant concept has to do with a handbag which is singularly distinct and different in that it takes the form of a miniature barrel and which lends itself to eye appeal by reason of the fact that it is a replica of a genuine keg or barrel and is, at the same time, practical and useful.
Briefly and somewhat broadly the improved handbag is characterized by a container having a given exterior shape. The container is characterized by a rigid, hollow body portion and rigid top and bottom wall. Thus constructed, the container serves to provide a fixed interior receptacle portion which may be appropriately lined using suitable material which lends itself to use in ones handbag. The upper or top portion of the container is separate from and hingedly mounted on the upper part of the body portion and constitutes a lid or cover. As a general rule, this is provided on its interior side with a face mirror and at least one article holding clip which may be employed to support a readily accessible lipstick. Handle means is also appropriately mounted on the body portion and is such in construction that it adds to the over-all distinctive appearance of the handbag.
More specifically, the container in its preferred embodiment is constructed to represent a miniature barrel, and to this end the body portion is constructed from longitudinally bowed staves with their abutting lengthwise edges connected by inter-fitting tongues and grooves. Ornamental hoop-like bands encircle and are fixedly mounted on the body portion as well as the end portions in somewhat customary fashion and these may be made of highly polished brass, copper or the like. Although not absolutely necessary, the handle takes the form of a bail and this is fashioned in representation of a carrying handle used, for example, on a pail or bucket.
The invention also features a removable partition mounted adjacent the bottom and cooperating with the main bottom wall and defining a false bottom as well as a so-called secret compartment between itself and the bottom wall.
This is easily one of the oddest patents I’ve come across in two years looking through the patent records. I can’t imagine this was a popular design for a ladies’ purse, especially in 1958. Maybe if it was today and/or if it was meant to be ironic. I wonder if it was ever sold commercially, and if so, if many women bought one.
Here’s an interesting bit of history from the 1860s. As far as I can tell, it was published in The Illustrated Times on October 10, 1863. It was drawn by Charles H. Bennett, a well-known Victorian cartoon artist, who worked for many publications, as well as providing art illustrating several books, as well. This was titled “As thirsty as a fish,” and was a satire on Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” which had just been published in 1859. Here’s how it was described. “Showing the evolution of a fish to a beer drinker, with his fin in his pocket, a few old rags, a convenient leaning post and committed to a constant thirst that no amount of beer can quench.”
And in the book, “Charles Darwin and Victorian Visual Culture,” by Jonathan Smith when “As Thirsty As A Fish” appeared in book form, it was accompanied by text indicating it “depicts the British workman as a drunkard who sees business, duty, and friendship merely as impediments to his indulgence.”
Apparently the “Origin of the Species” satires, known as “Development Drawings,” were pretty popular, as there were at least eighteen of them I turned up in a search of Yooniq Images. “As Thirsty As A Fish” appears to have been numbered “No. 20″ in the book, so it seems likely there were even more.
Today is the birthday of curmudgeonly children’s writer Roald Dahl (September 13, 1916-November 23, 1990).
[He] was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot. His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide.
Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, Dahl served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence officer, rising to the rank of acting wing commander. He rose to prominence in the 1940s with works for both children and adults and he became one of the world’s best-selling authors. He has been referred to as “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century.” His awards for contribution to literature include the 1983 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and the British Book Awards’ Children’s Author of the Year in 1990. In 2008, The Times placed Dahl 16th on its list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945.”
Dahl’s short stories are known for their unexpected endings and his children’s books for their unsentimental, macabre, often darkly comic mood, featuring villainous adult enemies of the child characters. His books champion the kind-hearted, and feature an underlying warm sentiment. Dahl’s works for children include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine. His adult works include Tales of the Unexpected.
One of his less well-known books was The Twits. “The idea of The Twits was triggered by Dahl’s desire to ‘do something against beards,’ because he had an acute hatred of them. The first sentence of the story is, ‘What a lot of hairy-faced men there are around nowadays!'”
Even though it was written in 1979, and published the following year, just like today hipsters with beards drank lots of beer, if Mr. Twit is any example. One chapter, “The Glass Eye,” involves a trick his wife played on him with his beer.
This is somewhat of an inside joke. When I was in D.C. a few years ago for the Craft Brewers Conference, I went for a long walk around the city, a little sightseeing. I made my way past the Canadian Embassy, in part because I had been invited to an event there later that same night by my good friend Stephen Beaumont, and I wanted to know where I would be going so as not to get lost. As I ambled past the embassy, I noticed four sleeves on four columns, part of a circular ring of columns, in front of the building. On each, was a word expressing the nature of Canada’s special relationship with America: Friends, Neighbours, Partners, Allies.
I chuckled to myself, but for some reason it stuck in my mind and when I saw Stephen later that day, I badgered him incessantly, repeating to him — in a low, serious voice — Friends … Neighbours … Partners … Allies. I changed the delivery, the emphasis and inflection, each time, like an actor trying out different versions searching for just the right one. If it was funny the first time (and I say charitably it was), by the fiftieth, Stephen’s patience was wearing understandably thin. But I was too far gone, it was an earworm caught in my head like an annoying song that you can’t stop from replaying over and over again until you want to scream. To his credit, he suffered through it for the next few days until the conference was over. But seeing that today is Canada Day, it brought back those four little words and so I’d like to say to everyone I know in Canada: “Happy Canada Day to my Friends … Neighbours … Partners … Allies!”
My son Porter has a subscription to Mad Magazine that we started for him a few years ago, when he began picking it up at the grocery store and really liked it. I remember devouring every issue when I was his age, too. The new issue (#540 August) came the other day, and features an illustration of Donald Trump on the cover with his head popped open and Mad Magazine’s mascot Alfred E. Neuman jumping out on a spring, like a jack-in-the-box. Which seems appropriate, frankly, but that’s another story.
Inside the issue, he brought my attention to a two-page piece on “New Olympic Events that AMERICANS Are Sure to Win.” These included “Synchronized-Selfies” and “Marathon TV Binge-Watching.” But the one he made a point to show me was the “Craft Beer Taste-Test Time Trials.”
You know you’ve got a perception problem when Mad Magazine is making fun of you. It’s a shame that enjoying good beer has been so perverted both from within and also from outside, in the form of the big brewers taking pot shots at a lot of core aficionados’ behavior.