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Kick The Cans - Sodatorials





Those of you who appreciate quality beverages are most likely aware that the aluminum can is perhaps the worst beverage package next to the steel can and the pathetic plastic "bottle" (dare we inflate the ego of such a package by giving it the superior title of "bottle"?). If you watch TV enough you will probably see one of the commercials (or is it a "public service announcement"), most likely funded by the aluminum industry, in which buying drinks in aluminum cans is promoted as a positive thing. The problem with recycling aluminum cans is that once the can is recycled, it will most likely end up in the form of another aluminum can. That means that recycling aluminum cans contributes to the degeneration of beverages in general. What would be more earth-conscious (and certainly more favourable to the palate) would be to buy drinks in refillable glass bottles in the first place. Why are refillable glass bottles better than aluminum cans? First, the drink inside will taste a few million times better and will last considerably longer due to the thickness of the glass and the lack of potential aluminum contamination and/or aftertaste. Second, when you return the empty, you will receive a REAL refund because it is in the manufacturer's interest to get it back to avoid having to buy new glass. Third, if locally produced in reasonable quantity, the price will most likely be much lower because you will be buying the contents and not the package. (For those who are not aware, the package usually is a bigger cost to the manufacturer than the contents) Fourth, the same truck that delivers full product to the retailer can pick up the empties without driving extra distance, thus preventing additional pollution to the atmosphere. Fifth, there is no need to tell anyone to recycle refillable bottles or to give anybody an environmental guilt trip; people historically have returned refillable bottles regardless of their opinion of the environment because the empties are worth MONEY. I think that the most positive thing that could be done with cans would be to gather them all up and melt them down one last time. Afterwards, they could be reformed into something positive like license plates or chainlink fences. Then the rest of the world could return to refillable glass bottles; the manufacturers could then put the bulk of their material cost into the content of the bottles. IMAGINE THAT! Write your opinion of our Popaganda and give us some suggestions or comments that might help us to provide you with the best beverages ever!


In the deep crevices of your mind, hopefully not yet beyond the grasp of ginkgo biloba, might be the image of the bespectacled grocer in the overalls with an apron, a dust brush in the back pocket. The whole family worked at the store, the SWEDA cash register spit out blue chip stamps at the checkstand. On the windows of the store would be big placards with the current specials, and you could cash in your deposit bottles. If there wasn't enough of something on the shelf, someone would get you some more from the back room; if it wasn't available, they'd order it for you. Not all of these markets were "mom-and-pop" stores, but even many of the bigger ones were often family or partnership enterprises. The job of the person running one of these markets was basically to try to be familiar with the demand of the store's clientele and to be aware of what products were obtainable and how to get them to the customer for a good price while still making a living. When a new product was created, whether by a new innovator or a large company, it would be presented to the store manager by the inventor or salesperson; if it appeared to be a worthwhile product, it would be purchased and made available to the customers. Progressive grocers would try to get as many good products as possible and offer them at the lowest possible prices, while at the same time taking care to ensure that the store was organized in an orderly manner with wide aisles and shopping carts for the customers' convenience. All of these factors would come together as the incentive for the customer to pick one market over whatever else was out there. Unfortunately, the supermarkets of today have virtually dispensed with these images, except to occasionally use them on TV commercials so as to give the public the subliminal feeling of the "supermarket that cares", systematically blocking the entrance of new innovations through new-age policies and loyalties and most importantly, sheer CONTROL. In fact, most supermarket chains are now so powerful and the range of suppliers they use is so narrow that new products are forced to follow an expensive and winding path to even get their product made available to the general public. In the United States, most beverages are purchased in supermarkets and clubs, so if a new soft drink is not available in either of the above, the opportunity to compete against "the big ones" is limited far beyond the question of quality. The old grocer's apron has been stuffed away and replaced by a white shirt, tacky tie, big belly, and a gray suit in a swivel chair; whose occupant is more like a cross between a real estate salesman and an auctioneer than an authority on provisions or nutrition. Maybe the grocer's apron makes a Halloween (or Hollywood-commercial) appearance, but the name of the game today is shelf-space rental, promotional allowances, co-op advertising, kickbacks, payoffs, free T-Shirts, pens, pins, and tie-clips, paperweights, pomp, hot air, and mail-in rebates. Generally, a new product must be presented to the corporate office, at which point it is usually explained how much the manufacturer will be charged to be allowed to put it in the stores. Then usually a time limit will be given by which it must be sold to avoid future charges or taking it back. The manufacturer is then directed to make a deal with one of the chain's few suppliers, who will also tack on a substantial markup, requiring the manufacturer to invest alot of money and forfeit most if not all of its margin to make the deal possible. About the only way the manufacturer won't end up bankrupt is if the product is an instant success. That's no problem to the supermarket; once a real estate holding becomes vacant, it usually gets replaced soon by a new tenant -- and for higher rent! Where does all of this leave you, the consumer? Well, if the facade of the old-time grocer polishing cucumbers fades away, you might look down the aisle of your local supermarket and it might look more like the alley in a public storage rental yard. Or maybe it's more reminiscent of a mobilehome park; it just depends how "upscale" the main office has decided to make this particular store. When you see a huge pyramid of a really junky product in the middle of the store, do you really think it's because that's the product in the highest demand? You would usually be wrong. That's the real estate section in the highest demand, which means that the manufacturer got milked for the rental of that space and probably had to send his own staff there to build the pyramid while the supermarket's staff sat in back smoking cigarettes and sending delivery vehicles away that didn't ring the receiving bell loud or long enough. In fact, the more you stare down that aisle, the more the shelves start to look like the trough, the parking lot like the corral; the more you look in the mirror and see a farm animal. The major manufacturers (of soft drinks and other products) and the major supermarkets and "clubs" can work well under these parameters, and their television ads and coupons, etc. work together to ensure the continuation of this type of practice for as long as consumers are unaware of it. Those of you who had the opportunity to travel through Soviet Bloc countries in the 1980's might have seen "GASTRONOM" in Russia or "ALIMENTARA" in Romania, the state-run "supermarkets" whose names mean something between "NOURISHMENT" and "FEED". Further centralization of manufacturers and retailers in this country gets closer and closer to that type of situation. For example, the incredible buying power of the supermarkets keeps the big manufacturers' volume immense, and the price of the materials used by the manufacturers (product and packaging) is considerably cheaper than what is offered to smaller manufacturers. Sometimes manufacturers go so far as to tell their suppliers not to supply the competition in exchange for continuing business. The way this is achieved is by escalating minimum purchase requirements beyond the grasp of any entity that isn't huge. Now when you walk down those aisles and see miles of 2-liter plastic bottles and 12packs of aluminum cans, along with a pittance of token beverages in semi-alternative packages, ask yourself what your big supermarket is doing for your beverage enjoyment. Then wander into an independent, upscale market which doesn't rent shelf space and see how the beverage aisle differs. While choosing from the dozen different brewed root beers in amber GLASS bottles, try to appreciate the fact that such a selection is EVEN AVAILABLE to you. In many parts of our great country, nobody can afford to even construct a store of that nature. SUPPORT RETAILERS WHO GET YOU WHAT YOU WANT! Remember, mediocrity is only an Alimentara away!


Movie stars are famous almost more for their decadent characteristics than for their accomplishments as artists. Not unlike a child who excels when given a colouring book complete with numbered spaces and an array of crayons, the child who follows directions and colours in the spaces most neatly might be analagous to the most accomplished "movie star". Movie stars are typically people who go through great expense to satisfy their desires, fantasies, and fetishes; all of which are magnified immensely by the fact that they have the resources to follow this path to its furthest end. The viewing public faints in the presence of one and tries to emulate popular movie stars in fashion, speech, and perceived personality. So would it not seem somewhat illogical for the same guy who flies in a renowned hairstylist from Paris to trim his nose hairs to have a pantry in his 18-bedroom fortress-like mansion filled with aluminum cans and widemouthed 5%-juice "all-natural" bellywash punch drinks that can be found at any gas station? Gourmet retailers within 10 miles of their residences in the L.A. area stock around twenty different brands of amber-bottled root beers and sarsaparillas, along with tens of ginger beers, old-fashioned sodas, and longneck bottles of just about everything -- at a premium price, but available nevertheless. Actually, this unfortunate predicament exists primarily because the movie star is unaware of his/her unfortunate existence. When you start to examine a movie star's rise to fame and the gradual detachment from the public that develops with the onslaught of fame, it's easier to understand just how the renaissance of quality beverages could be occurring completely unbeknownst to the movie star. Let's start from the beginning and see how it happens: Before the first "great gig", alot of these future stars were struggling artists, often living as roommates with others in the same situation. With little money to go around, and assuming that this period in their lives is between 1970 and 1990, they probably bought most of their beverages in either cans or 2Liter plastic bottles because these things were cheap. As for socializing, during this time period even the coolest places served alot of junky soft drinks in cans or even worse, from the soda gun. (Use a gun, go to jail; right?) At most movie and TV studio sets, there is something called "craft service". The people in charge of craft service are given a budget from which they need to buy whatever food and drinks are needed to keep the entire cast of the show fed, along with feeding the camera crew and other workers, whose hours often lapse into the middle of the night. If a program or movie is not yet popular or starring well-known actors, the budget for food and drink is generally low which leads to the purchase of alot of cheap common drinks in cans. You know a show is on the rocks if it has a Sparkletts dispenser instead of shimmering bottles of glacier water. If the show is popular or it has a famous actor performing, the manufacturers of nationally available, uninteresting commonplace drinks offload pallets of their canned drinks on the stages with the expectation that a famous actor will drink it on the air. In the case of manufacturers of sappy "all-natural" teas and 5%juice "cocktails", their pallets are stacked with widemouthed bottles; all of these products are the generic junk heap found at any gas station, major supermarket, or chain club. The manufacturers deliver these products because when a viewer sees it, it's not only accessible just about everywhere in the retail trade, but it's also the product or "line" that the manufacturer most wants to sell. Now, remember that movie stars can afford most anything; so why would the availability of free merchandise keep them from getting something better? That's simple. First, over the years they have grown accustomed to manufacturers showering them with freebies. Second, as they have become famous, they have stopped socializing in many public places; they have hired personal assistants who go for them to the supermarkets, gas stations, and other places. The personal assistants purchase according to what the movie star orders; the movie stars' isolation from the public forum means that the only new products that they will sample will be those that have been delivered for free to their stage. A handcrafted brewed root beer that makes its debut in an upscale shop or in an eclectic coffee house will never be given for free to the stage; the movie stars won't order it because they don't know it exists. The entertainment industry is plagued with drug addiction, failed relationships, alcoholism, and other misfortunes; why add beverage retardation to the list? Here's how you can help: (1) Tell them directly! If you are personally acquainted with a movie star, go to an upscale market or to the Real Soda In Real Bottles warehouse and buy an assortment of brewed root beers and their varietals, as well as a bunch of nostalgic sodas in longneck bottles. Bring these beverages to them and let them taste them. They'll be ever so greatful as that first taste whisks them to that prehistoric era in which quality beverages were not extinct. Who knows, they might put your name on the credits at the end of their next flick. (2) Show them how good Real Soda really is! Take your friends and relatives and a big ice bucket and a few cases of Real Soda In Real Bottles to the nearest film studio and congregate outside the gate, guzzling down that beverage decadence in complete defiance of mediocrity; as their Lincoln Town Car limousines pass by, they'll get jealous! Then they'll ask their personal secretaries to get them what those people are drinking! Why all of this concern with movie stars? First of all, movie stars are people, too; and they deserve at least a bit of the best. Second, as they get as disgusted with junky canned sodas as the rest of us are, they'll refuse to drink anything that isn't good; all of the people who want to emulate them will do the same, and then you will find gradually a better selection of beverages just about everywhere you shop! Now that's a story with a happy ending!

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