Friday, February 25, 2022

Insight: Gone but certainly not forgotten

Sir Paul McCartney
By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Last week’s revelation that Sir Paul McCartney would be performing in a concert this June in Baltimore after an Orioles baseball game wasn’t shocking, but the social media comments thereafter were to me.

More than 75 percent of those comments on an Orioles fans Facebook page mentioned that they either didn’t know who Sir Paul McCartney is or claimed to have never heard any of his music. That left me feeling a little sad and suddenly very old.

It got me to thinking if those people had never heard of McCartney’s music, what else hadn’t they heard of? This transcends the concept of “Cancel Culture” in my opinion and leaves me wondering about how little a footprint newsmakers and popular items leave behind in our 24 hours news cycle society.

Coveted and must-have toys, the latest fashion trends, actors and politicians, and billions spent on advertising nationwide apparently cannot embed some things into the collective American consciousness today. I call it "transcendental memory syndrome."

Without further fanfare, here are a few other items or companies that have long since been forgotten.

Who today remembers Green Goddess salad dressing? Once the rage in restaurants and on supermarket shelves from coast to coast in the 1970s, now Green Goddess is nowhere to be found. Loaded with creamy mayonnaise, avocados and green herbs and spices, the concoction once rivaled Italian, French, Ranch, Blue Cheese and Thousand Island as a leading salad topping but you would be hard pressed to find it now on any restaurant menu.

Two decades ago, you could find me driving my blue 1996 Pontiac Firebird. Growing up I had always wanted a muscle car and came close several times to buying a Pontiac Trans Am after watching Burt Reynolds drive one in the “Smokey and the Bandit” films.

But at that time, my budget was minimal, and I had to settle for a 1986 Pontiac Grand Am, a smaller, more compact, and less powerful 4-cylinder cousin of the Trans Am. But 10 years later, I traded in my Grand Am for a 1996 V-6 stick shift Pontiac Firebird and I was living my dream.

These days there are very few Pontiacs remaining on American roads, with the last one rolling off GM’s assembly line in 2010. Now just 12 years later does anyone even remember Pontiac vehicles, let alone still have one?

Through the decades of my adult life, many dazzling upstart soda brands have come and gone. Off the top of my head, I can think of Jolt Cola, Surge Cola, Orange Slice, Crystal Pepsi, Orbitz, and Aspen.

Jolt Cola was made in my hometown of Rochester New York and was a precursor in 1985 to today’s energy drinks with an original slogan of “All the sugar and twice the caffeine.” Later the “sugar” was dropped from the slogan and the last time I saw Jolt Cola being sold, it was about 2006 at my neighborhood dollar store. 

Same thing for Surge Cola. It was produced and distributed by Coca Cola originally as a competitor to Mountain Dew in the late 1990s. Surge Cola had a distinct citrus taste, bright green in color and featured an extensive promotional campaign with catchphrases such as “Life’s a Scream” and “Feed the Rush.” By 2004 however, Surge Cola joined Jolt Cola as long forgotten passing fads in popular culture.

Add Zima to that list too. Sometime in the 1990s, I first noticed Zima in stores, and it was marketed by Coors as a light alcoholic wine cooler-type of alternative to beer. Frequently the target of jokes by late-night television comedians for its non-masculine qualities, Zima ceased production and it was erased from public awareness.

Early in my career as a journalist, I was given a Minolta 35mm camera as a gift and I used it extensively from the mid-1970s into the 1990s. With the rise of digital photography technology in the 1990s, 35mm film became harder to find and develop, so my Minolta was relegated to the sidelines in favor of a digital Nikon camera. I loved the quality of the images it captured though and was saddened to hear the news when the Minolta company went out of business in 2003. Does anyone out there even remember the Minolta brand today?

With my parents living in Florida in the 1980s, it was handy to board an Eastern Airlines flight to go visit them. I also found American West Airlines practical when I was flying to Phoenix, Arizona where I was stationed for a time in the U.S. Air Force. It’s unlikely anyone under the age of 40 will have ever heard of either of those airline carriers - or Northwest Airlines, Mohawk Airlines, Braniff Airlines, Pan American, US Airways and Continental Airlines too.

Between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I worked the summer at Carroll’s Hamburgers. Nobody today remembers that franchise and few recall Burger Chef, a restaurant chain my father would stop at for a quick meal when driving along the New York State Thruway.

It's been said that no matter how hard we try, time goes on. But despite the passing of time, Sir Paul McCartney remains a big deal for me and always will. <


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