Saturday, December 2, 2017

What Goes Best With a Hot Dog?

"What goes best with a HOT DOG? Right...Beer or ale the way you like those easy-to-open CAP-SEALED CANS!"

In the summer of 1940, a war was going on somewhere in Europe, and there was talk of some mad man taking over countries and slaughtering millions. But far away in the heartland of America, the main concern was rolling out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer. Those days of soda and pretzels and especially beer. And Continental Can Company wanted to convince people that their Cap-Sealed (cone top) beer can fit best with summertime activity.

The year before, six and a half million of the 30 million cases of canned beer sold had been consumed in July and August alone. With a recovering economy, all indications were that 1940 would be the biggest season yet, and the brewing and beer can industries were gearing up to meet the expected demand. For Continental and the 83 breweries using cone tops, it was a matter of convincing consumers that theirs was the superior package.

Continental embarked on an aggressive print advertising campaign, paid for through a cooperative arrangement with those brewers and beer distributors using their Cap-Sealed cans. Lively two-page spreads ran in popular magazines such as Life, Collier's and Liberty, featuring people having fun and discovering for themselves the advantages of the Cap-Sealed can.

There were nine spreads in all, pointing out the convenience of taking the can along for picnics, outings, cook-outs, parties and other occasions, stressing that no special opener was needed, unlike other types of beer cans that required a "church-key" opener ("opens just like a bottle"). You could drink from a "clean, cap-protected surface," and there were no empties to return. No environmental regulations, either.Once you consumed the contents, you could simply throw the can into the outhouse pit, sink it in the lake, toss it into the campfire or add it to a pile somewhere, where excited collectors could find it decades later. One of the ads depicted a young man, with his sweetheart, letting his empty float away in a stream.

Continental put a considerable amount of market research into the campaign. They sent their men out to beer distributors and beer drinkers across the country to get their views on the package and how to market it. When asked, 2,032 distributors said they preferred the Cap-Sealed can to the flat top can. Only 102 chose the flat top, and 232 had no opinion. With flat tops, distributors had to handle the special openers, thus making the cone top more desirable. In addition, in nearly every survey taken, two out of three beer drinkers said they preferred the cone top.

The distributors and brewers were enthusiastic about the summer ad campaign and the local sales promotion that was given to them in their own territories, and they told Continental that the combination helped build package sales and volume.

The campaign paid off handsomely. In the first eight months of 1940, the distributors were reporting sales overwhelmingly ahead of those in all of 1939. The year 1941 also saw banner sales (until the U. S. entrance in the war put canned beer on hold). After the war, the Cap-Sealed can was eventually phased out, ending up being regulated mostly to automotive additives, and even those eventually went to plastic bottles. You can't buy anything in cone tops anymore, unfortunately.

But imagine for just one moment that it's the summer of 1940 once again. A beautiful day, kind of humid, but there's a nice breeze. The women are setting out food and talking, the men are playing a friendly game of baseball, the children are running abound. You get yourself an ice-cold cone-top can of beer, grab the opener and pry off the cap. Shhhhlock. A little bit of foam rises. You bring the metal surface to your lips and swallow down the wonderful liquid refreshment. Ahhh!.

Meanwhile, a war rages on in the rest of the world.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Mysterious 1960s Korean Pop LP

I found this unusual foreign gem in the $2 bin at a record collectors' show in Minneapolis a few years ago, and had to snatch it up, even though I couldn't read a word on it except for "Oasis Records," "Seoul, South Korea," "High Fidelity," "Side 1," and "Side 2." Fine print on the back cover also references RCA and "Telefunken U-47," a type of microphone that Frank Zappa referenced on one of his records with sexual innuendo. ("You'll love it.")
On the front cover, a color photo of an attractive young Asian woman singer looking rather Westernized, wearing a halter top, bracelet and necklace with a flower in her hair above her left ear, a lit cigarette in her right hand, while standing at a microphone caressed by her left hand. A cloud of exhaled tobacco smoke hovers over her. That in itself seemed unusual, as I have heard that South Korean culture is quite conservative, and even now, women who smoke publicly are looked down on. The Oasis Records logo appears in the lower left corner, and a Shin Films logo in the lower right, suggesting it might be a movie soundtrack.

Listening to the record, the style was kind of early 1960s nightclub Asian jazz-pop, full orchestration, with kind of torch singer vocals, sung in Korean, sounding sweet and melodic. Not really a throaty smoker's voice.

After posting an image of the album cover on Flickr, someone commented, tipping me off that the singer's name is Jaeran Park (or Park Jae-ran), and the album title translated into "My Darling Has Passed Away, but His Song Still Remains." Upon further research, I found that she was born in 1938, and that this album came out in 1964, so she would have been about 26 years old at the time. She is actually well known in South Korea, putting out albums from the late 1950s until at least the early 1980s, and making numerous appearances on Korean television, some of which can be found on YouTube. The musical genre is called "K-Pop" in the trade, or Korean Popular. Apparently she also did some acting, which might help explain the Shin Pictures logo (wonder if the cover picture is from a movie). She looks a lot more conservative/traditional in most of the other images I have been able to find of her. The label, Oasis Records, in now an EMI subsidiary.

The other mystery would be, how did this copy end up in the United States, and ultimately in a $2 bin at a record collectors' show in Minneapolis?

A track from the album can be found here:
Another track from the album can be found here: