Linda’s Brain Peanuts Remembers Soda Pop


Today’s Music: Prisencolinensinainciusol (picked by todday’s author.)
Days Til Spring: 38

It’s no secret that I enjoy both drinking and traveling, and traveling to go drinking.
Today, Linda Vernon has taken time from her busy schedule of cheering up Edgar Allen Poe (He was very unhappy about the Pottery Barn’s intriguing story about him), and bringing us the cutting edge of thoughts that scientists are thinking about, to tell us why it’s so important to keep our traveling in mind when drinking.
(Even if she wants me to switch to Pepsi.)
So read! Enjoy! And stop by Linda’s site and follow!
(It’s the easiest way to get into her will…)

My Brain Peanuts Remembers Soda Pop
by Linda Vernon
Drinking soda in the fifties was a lot different from today. First of all, soda came in a bottle. In Washington state, where I grew up, there was no such thing as drinking a can of soda. No siree!
We drank a bottle of pop or we drank nothing at all.

Back then, when you bought a bottle of pop, the pop was yours to drink — but you had to give back the bottle because you were merely renting it. After all, you had to pay a 2-cent deposit on it, for crying out loud, and not taking it back for a refund could seriously affect the budget.

So everyone always returned their pop bottles to get their two-cents back because two-cents in the fifties would buy enough gas to get you to Canada from anywhere in the United States.

The only people who drank out of a can were beer drinkers. But beer cans were worthless so beer drinkers didn’t worry about getting their deposit back. They would simply chuck the empties out of the window of whatever speeding vehicle they happened to be drunkenly swerving down the highway in.

Today, we would consider this drunk driving but in those days we simply considered it littering. And in the 1950’s, littering was America’s favorite pastime — as much a way of life as Polio, onesie gym clothes, and radio-active cleansing cream.

But whether you were drinking out of a bottle or drinking out of a can, you would have died of thirst in the 1950’s if you didn’t have one of these.

It was a combination bottle/can opener, and it was a wonderful little gadget. One end would pry off the caps of Debby and Bobby’s pop bottles while the other end would puncture a hole in Mom and Dad’s beer cans. (The only thing this can opener wouldn’t do is open a bottle of wine, but this wasn’t a problem because in the 50’s only Europeans drank wine.)

I think it’s fair to say that the bottle opener was as much a part of the foundation upon which the togetherness of the fifties family was built as smearing butch wax on crew cuts, stenciling on eyebrows or hiding under desks together to survive atomic blasts.

I remember my grandparents only drank Pepsi which they always referred to as Peps. Pepsi was for those who think young. Not only did my grandparents think young, they were young. When I was five, my grandmother was only 44. (Back then people started families way younger so they could get it out of the way quicker and have more time to drink Peps.)

Now let’s say you only drank half the Peps in that rented bottle of yours. What would you do? Well, instead of pouring it down the drain, you would save the remainder of the Peps by utilizing another ingenious type of gadget that people just referred to as that bottle thingy.

That bottle “thingy” I’m referring to was a rubber gasket that went into the top of the bottle to seal in the carbonation as well as that delicious Peps refreshing flavor. After all, you spent a whole dime for that bottle of Pepsi, and you wouldn’t want it to go to waste.

Not if you were ever going to afford that trip to Canada!

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193 responses to “Linda’s Brain Peanuts Remembers Soda Pop

  1. I wasn’t alive in the fifties, but your tale is so vivid that I feel that I was! Hilarious. (I do remember ten-cent bottles of Coke, though. And by “Coke,” I mean any ol’ soft drink. That’s what we call them down south. For example, “Hey, Stacy. You want a Coke?” “Yeah, that would be great!” “What kind?” “I’ll take a Seven-Up, thanks.”) ❤

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  2. I loved this.

    1. Can I really buy all of those things on Ebay?
    2. Can I make my picture captions in blue?
    3. People still throw beer bottles out of the window of the New Jersey Turnpike. It’s an official state sport.

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  3. I see that in your opening stanza you use the terms “pop” and “soda”. That’s a regional difference. I grew up in Cleveland and if you asked for a soda, you got a tall glass of root beer with a scoop of vanilla ice cream in it. If you asked for a pop, you got can of Coke. In New York City, a soda will get you that can of Coke and a pop will get you a punch in the eye.

    Coke used to have coke in it. The good old days, indeed. Fur shizzle.

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    • You can still get that in NYC.
      You just have to buy in the right neighborhoods… 😉

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    • To this day I still call a soda a pop. I’ve got to remember not to do that if I ever go to New York City! In California we call all pop, soda. And we call sacks, bags. I’m used to saying sacks. Whenever I ask a clerk to put my pop in a sack they look at me like I said something in Arabic. (And the only thing I know in Arabic is Fur Shizzle.) I think in New York, if you tell someone to put your pop in a sack you might be asking someone to kill your dad?

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    • The Pacific Northwest, and any other areas settled by Midwesterners, inherited that term and many other regional linguistic differences. Yes, I have a nerdy fascination with etymology and linguistics.

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      • That’s interesting. I wonder why that is?

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        • Well, again, it has to do with those that settled the area– being those that came from the Midwest, and then the Western Plains areas. I only dabble in these studies, but linguists get very specific on how English changed along these lines, even more particularly how pronunciations changed on the lower West Coast (specifically California), compared to the Rocky Mountains area and the Pacific Northwest.

          What’s more entertaining is meeting a person who has memorized all these regional differences, and after asking certain questions, can accurately determine where an individual is from (i.e., regionally), if not always precisely (i.e., hometown).

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  4. Interesting. I’m wondering if there’s some correlation between using Dorothy Grey face cream and the inability to finish a bottle of Pepsi. Gotta be….

    Very funny and well written post!

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    • I think scientists are using Dorothy Grey cream and Pepsi in their nuclear fusion research.

      Linda consistently writes the funniest stuff.

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    • Ah thanks Alex. I think it was called Dorothy Grey face cream because it turned your face gray. I can’t finish a bottle of Pepsi either . . . hm . . . I’ve never connected the two before. But I’m sure there’s a correlation if we dig deep enough!

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  5. Stylin’ – we have some of those pop covers (but not from Ebay!) – we had the plastic kind because, well, my husband’s family is is Scottish – and well, those were cheaper 🙂

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  6. phew! for once i’m lost for words. i thought life was supposed to have been simpler in the 50’s

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  7. Wow, I’m still caught up on: “When I was five, my grandmother was only 44.” Oy. Now I feel really old.

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  8. Thanks to Linda for that ‘pop’ of nostalgia! I’m a Coke gal but my husband loves his Peps- and he prefers it from a bottle than from a can. He says it tastes different. 🙂

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  9. freekin’ awesome… man, we did used to litter… I remember those commercials with the Native American looking at the trash and shedding one tear… that was pretty moving…

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  10. I still use those bottle thing-ys. I just close up wine bottles with them (after I take out the straw). But I still call them thing-ys!

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  11. What if you already lived in Canada?!!

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  12. You had me nodding along in agreement, right up until all that babbling on about Pepsi. I’m not familiar with that word. I thought we were talking about sodas, pops… you know, coke: Coca-Cola Classic.

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  13. Linda is just hilarious. 🙂 I remember those shapely Pepsi and then Coca-cola bottles. I think they were much nicer to drink from than the cans.

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  14. Ha! My grandma had a bunch of those bottle thingys, in 70s yellow and avocado green. They’re definitely one of the things lodged in my mind that I associate with my grandparents house. They were also Peps drinkers but they wasted everyone’s time and still added the ‘i’.

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  15. I suddenly realized I’ve been ignoring the biggest up side of olditutde: NOSTALGIA! Wow. All the stuff I remember that no one but other old folks remember. Of course, there are many things I’ve forgotten — until someone reminds me I used to know it. BTW, I have several bottle openers and remarkably, they haven’t improved on the design. Turns out, you still need’em from time to time. Who’d’ve thunk it?

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  16. Up until recently one of Australia’s States ran a 5 cents per glass and plastic bottle recycling scheme. It seemed to be based on the same concept, you own the liquid inside, but not the vessel. Coca Cola always had the best TV ads back in the day.

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  17. It’s no joke about the gas money to Canada. That’s how my parents ended up here!

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  18. Great post, brilliant comments and by the
    way, I like bagels ( the NY one’s I Mean) 🙂

    Andro

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  19. What part of Washington state did you grow up in, Linda? I’m still within the state… if I said “near Nukieland” I’m sure you could figure out what part I’m in, with reasonable accuracy…

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    • I grew up in Southeastern Washington and I went to high school in Walla Walla. Nuikieland? Hm . . . are you by any chance near Hanford?

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      • Wa-Hi, eh? I’m in Kennewick. Not as close to Hanford as Richland or West Richland, but it often doesn’t matter to a lot of outsiders I speak to. I would gather that you appreciate the distinction, however.

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        • Oh yeah. I know the difference. You’re probably still just as radiated in Kennewick as your would be in Richland though. Of course, it’s all safe and there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. Everybody lives to a ripe old age there.

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  20. Pingback: MEMORY DOGS | SERENDIPITY

  21. That bottle opener thingy is cool. I want one!

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  22. This was all still true in the 60s in rural Virginia. When I was a kid, one of the ways we got the money to buy a “drink” (which is the word we used for soft drinks) was to collect the bottles that people had tossed out of their windows and return them for the deposit (I think it was a nickel then). It was a two mile walk down a country road from our house to the country store. We’d usually find enough bottles to be able to buy a drink and maybe a pack of nabs or some ice cream. A few years ago I visited with the woman who ran the store back then. She was in her 90s and nearly blind when I visited her, but as cheerful as ever and remembered me well. Even after all those decades, she was still fretting over how often people bought drinks without paying the deposit (because they promised to return the bottles and that’s how nice she was) then never returned the bottles. I imagine most of the bottles we sold to her were from people like that.

    Anyway, great post. Thanks for stirring up some memories.

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    • That’s funny!
      There was a guy near me that had a food cart outside the construction yard I worked at for a while. years later, I ended up living in the area, and saw a tiny luncheonette. Went in, and it was the same guy!
      He still remembered me (“4 hotdogs, mustard, two with kraut, and a diet coke bottle, right?”)
      We had a good chat about the passing years and changes in the neighborhood.

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    • Oh I remember doing the same thing. You really had to work for a “drink” back then. I remember also walking down to the gas station (the only place open on Sunday in our town) and buying an ice cream bar called a Sidewalk Sundae. (Which is really a cool name for an ice cream bar now that I think about it.) Oh wouldn’t I love reconnect with the couple who ran that gas station now! That is so sweet that she still remembered you. What a truly nice person she was. There were so many people like that back then. They really enjoyed each day as it came. And their customers were almost like their family. Those days really were like life in Mayberry. We’re lucky to have all those wonderful memories of a simpler time!

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  23. What I loved were the .05 Coke machines, with the big handle you pushed to deliver the icy product. To make ours last longer, my brother and I would push a hole in the cap with the ice pick, and drink it that way.

    Then, we returned the bottle for our refund. Loved me some glass bottle refunds!

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  24. In England, it was always called ‘pop’ A bottle of pop was a great treat when I was a kid. My favourite was ‘Dandelion & Burdock’. I’d never heard of Coca Cola or Pepsi.

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  25. Disgusting. I remember all that stuff and some you didn’t mention…which makes me older than dirt…feeling sick now. Let me sulk in private. I’ll be in touch…..Jots

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  26. I remember collecting empty bottles as a boy. This was in the mid seventies and holy crap if empty bottles weren’t everywhere! We never stopped to wonder WHY this was since we were too busy collecting money so’s we could buy candy and cigarettes. Ahhh, childhood in the age of Grand Funk and bell bottoms.

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    • Please tell me you weren’t wearing an earth-tone turleneck with those bell bottoms, Cayman.
      I’ll still respect you. I’ll just be laughing while I do it.

      *Full disclosure – there’s a picture somewhere of a very young Guap in exactly that kind of turtleneck.
      And possibly earth tone corduroy pants.

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    • I was “of age” in the seventies. I was probably the one littering all those empty bottles for you kids in your bell bottoms. (Though I was wearing bell bottoms too and I wore my hair like the mom in That Seventies Show.)

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      • Linda,

        You look amazing, so whatever you were littering the streets with back in the age of Grand Funk Railroad? I want some. And by some, I’m talking recipe. Tell you what, you get a pass this time, young lady. Don’t let it happen again. Okay, if you let it happen again there isn’t a hell of a lot I could do about it. But man, it sounds authoritative, doesn’t it?

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        • Well thank you! I must say there’s nothing like collecting old pop bottles and drinking the dregs to keep one’s complexion rosy. (I once tripped over the golden spike int he Grand Funk Railroad so that should tell you something — I’ll let youo know when I figure out what.) And you do sound authoritative. I hope you’re a boss or a dictator or something. You have a flair.

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  27. Wonderful post Linda! I live in WA state… had no idea you were from here. Like you, I fondly remember drinking my sodas (always a treat) from bottles, and collecting empty ones from grassy lots, to get money for candy… ah, back when we played outside. Really enjoyed this!

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    • Oh I’m so glad you liked it. And you’re from Washington? How about that! We always spent our bottle money on candy too! Apparently we Washingtonian kids could never get enough candy, (I still can’t actually!)

      Ah yes! The days when we played outside and no one supervised us or paid any attention to what we were doing as long as we were home for lunch on time — and the real reason we didn’t eat much lunch was because we had just got done eating four pounds of black licorice! Oh the good ol’ days!

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  28. I remember these days all too well! And going & collecting pop bottles from the ditches & construction sites, so you could buy a chocolate bar for 10 cents or penny candy (which actually cost a penny)!

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    • Those were the good old days, alright! I always liked buying ten pieces of penny candy. You really got a lot of entertainment and deliciousness for one thin dime! 😀

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Ahem *best Ricky Ricardo voice* Babble-OOOoooo!!!

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