Lyrical Laughs

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Still learning, thanks to bottle caps

It’s funny how some of us (like yours truly) shrug off conventional learning but can be like sponges when it comes to absorbing lessons learned in the oddest of ways.

So it was with my Snapple cap. Last week I had a hankering for raspberry iced tea, so I wandered over to the corner market near my office and purchased a drink. Just a few minutes later I was sipping a deliciously refreshing beverage when I noticed that the writing inside the cap mentioned Portland.

The fact that I was able to decipher the message is notable because I have been attempting to adapt to wearing contacts. Sometimes I can read with them and sometimes everything looks like a big blur. Either the contacts or my brain need an adjustment. In the meantime reading is a minor challenge, especially tiny words on a round piece of metal. If you’re wondering how many words fit on a bottle cap, the answer is just enough to get my attention.

According to my raspberry iced tea bottle cap, our little city of Portland was named before Portland, Oregon. That’s right, folks, we were first even though everyone assumes the Portland you’re talking about is on the other side of the country. Ironically, Portland, Oregon earned its designation with a coin toss.

I know, right?

Apparently, there were two guys who owned a bunch of land on the waterfront in Oregon, and they both wanted to name the territory after their hometown. You already know one of them was Portland, Maine. The other (get this) was Boston, Massachusetts. They decided to flip a coin for the decision. Portland won. Sort of.

I know this is the unpolished version of the story but you can look it up and correct me if you’d like. No, wait - please don’t. This is still more accurate than my joke telling.

I can’t tell you how many times Spouse has run into problems at various jobs because of that “other” Portland, from packages being delivered to the wrong state to travel agents almost booking him on a return trip three time zones away. If he had been there he would have rigged that dang coin in favor of the Boston native.

There are tons of other tidbits of information to be found on Snapple bottle caps. Some are very surprising (penguins can jump six feet) and some are… well, just plain strange (a duck has three eyelids). They are all potential conversation starters – or stoppers, I suppose. What impresses me is that I remember many of them. Honestly, it surprises me when I remember anything.

But this isn’t school and there will not be a test, so I feel perfectly qualified to even repeat some of what the caps teach me and share my newfound knowledge with others.

Every day we are bombarded with all sorts of marketing tools on most things we consume. Whether it’s an eye-catching container, a coupon, or a UPC code that enters you in a contest, there isn’t much we make contact with that doesn’t entice us to buy more.

You have to wonder (fine, I have to wonder) why a beverage company would replace marketing their own product to its clientele with a little trivia. Maybe they are just hoping to enlighten us. Or maybe there’s a subliminal sales pitch in each little known fact. What if they’re disguising a deal within the message that it’s illegal to sing off-key in North Carolina? What if the cap informing us that one acre of peanuts will make about 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches is designed to make us thirsty?

I do have to say some people take this stuff way too seriously. It really wasn’t necessary to kick me out of the grocery store. I was just showing the cashier that there are 293 ways to make change for a dollar.

My lemonade cap told me so.

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