By Elizabeth Wright. Elizabeth has been involved with The
The roots of Barq's Root Beer go back to 1898 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, when the beverage was created by a sugar chemist. The company remained in the hands of the Barq family until 1976. By the time The
Barq's became well known for its marketing campaigns, especially those connecting Barq's with Halloween. Another campaign had the catchy name "Stink-N-Stare 3-D."
And then of course in 1992 (before The
The chairman of the board of Barq's at the time advised bottlers that the "Going Out of Business" promotion was going to be "the mother of all value-added promotions" and his message was accompanied by a "National Certificate of Honor" and a May Day flag. Television ads urged customers to "quit Stalin around and get some Barq's." A Barq's "Private Reserve Collection -- Soviet Stuff" catalog was also available. Items included in this catalog ranged from Soviet medals to military berets to a military dress coat to sets of Matryoshka dolls. These dolls -- pronounced "ma-troosh-ka" -- were both the traditional dolls as well as a political set featuring Yeltsin, Gorbachev, Stalin, Lenin and Kryschev. Instant prizes were also available in some 12 packs, if they contained a "false-top" prize can. (These cans had an extra lid on them, identifying a winner.)
It was in the spirit of these types of campaigns that the "Psychic Fish" promotion was launched in 1996, after Barq's had joined
For collectors, "Soviet Stuff" and other Barq's promotions are a great way to build a collection -- and a very unusual collection at that!
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Photographer Ernest Withers Had an Eye on History,