Selling the Fizz

   So it went from a mild over-the-counter medication to something people wanted banned.  Well, yes, that happened to cocaine, too, but I was thinking of another product, which took longer to make the transition.  And along the way, it slid its way into our culture in many ways, SOME of which can be illustrated with postcards.

   It is, of course, the soft drink.  Ever wondered why the old-fashioned drugstore in old movies and television shows included a soda fountain?  Why, it’s because the first soft drinks were sold out of pharmaceutical venues.  (The soda fountains were already there at that time, as carbonated water—since it makes you burp—was considered an aid to digestion.  Flavoring the soda water was part of the plan, too.)  Coca-Cola was first marketed as a nerve tonic and then as a substitute for stronger beverages when that part of Georgia voted in its temperance laws.  Pepsi Cola was considered a cure for the upset stomach, or dyspepsia (see what they did there?)  Dr Pepper made some similar claims, and settled for a general trope of how good it was as a snack instead of something less healthy (Drink a Bite to Eat at 10, 2, and 4, they told you.)  7-Up actually advertised the use of lithium, a mild tranquilizer, in its recipe.  (It’s lithilated!)

   But what caught on with the public was a cold, carbonated beverage.  (Hence the origin of the ones already mentioned in warm climates: Coke in Georgia, Pepsi in North Carolina, Dr Pepper in Texas, and 7-Up in Missouri.)  And it was as such that it started to charge into the world of advertising, beginning as early as the 1880s.  Some of these slogans have outlived the ad campaigns that spread them across the country, and in some cases have outlived the very soft drink.

   Moxie is still drunk, I am told, in hidden, tucked away corners of the united States, but once it had its empire.  The man who invented it claimed it was named after a man named Moxie who had discovered the secret ingredient in the drink during a perilous adventure in South America.  (This secret ingredient turns out to have been a flower root which grows all over North America, and likely Lt. Moxie never existed.)  But it was advertised as a nerve tonic—besides being a cold carbonated beverage—and was advertised by the Moxie Man, who was so stalwart and heroic looking that saying someone’s “got moxie” is a major compliment.  (The phrase may be revived by the new movie Moxie!.  And it may not.)

   Did you ever use the phrase about lobster or a liverwurst and onion sandwich, “I like it, but it doesn’t like me”?  Without knowing it, you were inspired by 7-Up which, whether or not it originated the phrase, spread it across America with the ad campaign “You Like It and It Likes You”.  They hinted that a glass of refreshing 7-Up after a bite of something that didn’t like you might be just what you needed.

   Refreshment was, of course, the thought behind one of the longest-lasting beverage slogans.  Coca-Cola started fooling around with the words Pause and Refresh in 1923, and went on fooling with the two words in various combinations for decades.  But it was in 1929 that they started to use “The pause That refreshes” and it helped burn a bright red logo across the country.  No one knows EXACTLY when it was appropriated for another pause to refresh oneself.

   Assorted executives at Coke did and did NOT like the association.  But there was no stopping it, and to this day, emcees at all-day workshops or long programs will announce the occasional break “for the pause that refreshes”, and they don’t mean running out to buy a carbonated beverage.

   Oh, that postcard at the top of this column?  Kind of wondered about it myself, especially when I turned up more postcards with the same theme and slogan.  Well, naturally, with the world paying attention to pausing and refreshing, every Coke competitor wanted to come up with a slogan as catchy as Coke’s.  And it was in the early 1930s that an advertising executive approved “Obey that Impulse.  Drink Pepsi-Cola Iced: You’ll Be Glad You Did!”

   I have no notion how they felt about how people received “Obey That Impulse”, but by that time, it was too late.  The slogan WAS eventually replaced by another one touting how inexpensive it was, with the tantalizing vamp “Trickle Trickle trickle trickle Nickel Nickel Nickel Nickel”.  Kinda surprised I haven’t seen THAT on a postcard. And they replaced that with “Pepsi-Cola: More Bounce to the Ounce”. Those postcards….

I really must go now and mix some healthy beverage mix gathering dust in my kitchen cupboard, and see if that will at least nudge my brain out of this particular gutter.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: