Posts from 8th March 2006

Mar 06

Nasty Brand Watch Special

Pumpkin PublogPost a comment • 429 views

In the alcopop boom, there was one brand which was the little engine that could. Vodka Kick, or VK, had one core selling point which marked it out from the other foul tasting liquids in the sector. It was considerably cheaper. Thus when the bottom fell out of the alcopop market, the VK brand remained in the chiller cabinets of cheap clubs and student union bars.

In the last dying thrashes of the alcopop wars, there was a boost in the foul tasting shots market, directly related in as much as people were quite used to linking sickly and alcoholic in their heads. And so the flavour chemists at VK set themselves a new challenge. Sickly cheap alcohol shots. Initially these too were VK Branded – but this diversification to a not well respected brand in the first place was seen as foolish.

Thus Corky’s Vodka Shots was born. (Beware of this “comic website” though it says much about the perceived market). What the site does not make clear is the range of foul flavours available. I can do that for you with a trust trade mag by my side:
Apple Sour
White Chocolate
Chocolate & Orange
Cola Cube

All pretty nasty, but nothing compared to the horror of the new brand:
Cream Egg.

Did we fight the alcopop wars just to be slaughtered by a bottle of liquid that looks like advocaat and tastes like sick sweetened with a ton of sugar. No – we did not.

That Was The Sixties That Was

The Brown WedgePost a comment • 146 views

Finally finished Dominic Sandbrook’s history of the late 50s and early 60s, Never Had It So Good. For a massive book – 700 pages covering only 7 years – it still feels a bit insubstantial in places, but it was an entertaining read. Sandbrook’s hypothesis is that “the Sixties” wasn’t the storm of change it’s sometimes painted as, but instead represents the acceleration or peak of a series of trends that were evident through the 1950s and in some cases for decades prior to that. This feels ‘right’ – it’s how most history works after all.

Unfortunately if your basic point is that things were less exciting than one might have thought you have a bit of a dilemma when it comes to holding the reader’s attention. Sandbrook is a breezy enough writer to duck this, and his waspish deflating of some of the era’s myths and egos is generally entertaining. He’s also lucky to have a particularly frothy set of primary sources to work with: he can relay the outrageously salacious details of the Keeler scandal as reported in the press, before demolishing them in favour of the boring truth. Even so there are occasions when he spends several pages detailing some popcult phenomena only to end by reminding us that more of the population preferred mowing the lawn or having a cup of tea.

Sandbrook seems at heart to be a political historian, and the most gripping parts of the book are his dissections of the Macmillan government and its travails, particularly the leadership contests which bookend the story. Surrounding these are a series of chapter-length essays on other aspects of the era – these are sound, but tend to read like introductory syntheses with a few jibes thrown in, and Sandbrook is more likely to wander into simple disdain or fandom.

The book’s out in paperback in time for the summer holidays, and would make good beach reading. The second volume, White Heat, takes the story up to 1970 and promises to fill in some of the gaps in this one.

A Pome About Capote

Do You See1 comment • 189 views

Can’t you see
Harper Lee
Is better than thee?