It’s a drastically different world than when I was working a summertime job during college.
The first summer, a middle-aged co-worker would proudly pat his ample stomach and announce, “This is my baby – Bud Miller!” The second summer, my boss (hi, Elgin!) tried (unsuccessfully) to get me to drink my first beer.
(I know quaffing that first brew is supposed to be an indispensable “rite of passage” into adulthood, but over the decades I’ve been too busy with a mortgage, in-laws, pallbearer duties, job changes, diaper changes, male pattern baldness and prostate exams to mourn the missed opportunity. Adulthood? I sometimes long for a “rite of return passage” to my teddy bear.)
As I was saying, nowadays smokers are marginalized. Daytime soap operas are almost extinct. Salsa has eclipsed ketchup. Miss America is relegated to obscurity. Kids would rather play soccer than baseball.
And, according to the Wall Street Journal, as of last year, U.S. drinkers for the first time are more likely to choose wine or a cocktail over beer.
Health-consciousness by millennials, a “bourbon renaissance,” the end of a voluntary liquor industry ban on radio and TV advertising and other factors have left brewers crying in their beer, the WSJ reports.
Oh, drinkers still chose beer 49.7 percent of the time and the decline represents only one less bottle per average consumer per week (versus 20 years ago). But the dollars add up and the milestone is a big psychological blow to brewers. (“Our coffers get less filling!”)
Beer executives who used to be cutthroat rivals are now pooling their resources to promote beer in general. One of my anonymous sources has revealed some of their ideas, including a patriotic appeal to the core loyal market (“When the going gets tough, the tough get older and whiter”). Other proposed marketing campaigns:
“Keep calling it Martin Luther King Jr. Day if you like, but to real hipsters, it’s now Oktoberfest: Part Deux.”
“Did dinosaurs and dodo birds go extinct because of little plastic umbrellas from sissy drinks? Science has never specifically disproven it!”
“Remember the King of Beers? Yep, beer is a monarchy! No Electoral College to worry about.”
“Need an emotional support animal during freshman year? We’re paying to make dorms both wheelchair accessible and Clydesdale accessible.”
“It was beer that made Milwaukee famous – although, admittedly, beer also makes you a little fuzzy about which continent claims Milwaukee.”
“Ride sharing app? We invented URINAL sharing!”
“Any Willy Wonka fans out there? Well, a select number of beer cans will come with a golden ticket for a liver transplant!”
“We’re replacing festival caricaturists with craft brewers! PLEASE let us make something just for you. Your head will still feel oversized!”
“You were SOBER when you took out that college loan. We’re just saying.”
“If you drink anything that requires introduction as ‘an unpretentious little …,’ we have cult deprogrammers on standby.”
“We’re partnering with law enforcement on volume discounts. ‘Honest, officer, I just had a couple of CASES’ could be your Get Out of Jail Free card! This offer void where prohibited by law.”
I just realized: baby Bud Miller must be pushing 40 now. (“Hey! I think I barfed up salsa on Miss America at a soccer game! Dad would’ve been so proud. Next year, I’ll dedicate my Arbor Day tuba and lederhosen routine to him.”)