As we do with surprising frequency, my wife and I are planning on seeing an opera next Wednesday night, specifically "Das Rheingold," part of Richard Wagner's "Ring Cycle."
It's hard to have grown up in New York when I did and hear the word Rheingold and not think of the local beer by the same name and the advertising jingle that was on New York airwaves probably a few thousand times a day.
New York at the time had about four or six local beers that were big players in the market and they, and some national beers as well, had jingles that were the anthems of summer.
Today certain agencies mark themselves with pompous epithets like "pop culture engineers." I've seldom seen anything enter pop culture like these commercials did when I was a kid.
Ballantine sang of its three rings logo. Schaefer had a great song. Here are Louis Armstrong and Lena Horne singing it. Not bad.
"Schaefer is the
One beer to have,
When you're having
More than one.
Even when your thirst
The most rewarding flavor
In this man's world,
For people who are having fun
Schaefer is the one beer to have
When you're having more than one."
But back to Rheingold.
"My beer is Rheingold the dry beer.
Think of Rheingold whenever you buy beer.
It's not bitter, not sweet,
It's the extra dry treat,
Won't you try extra dry Rheingold beer?"
By the time I got to around legal drinking age (which was 18 at the time, but 15 if you had your brother's draft card as I did) the local beers were under huge competitive pressures from national giants like Bud and Miller. Local beers were the mother's milk of underage teenage drinkers, usually because they were the cheapest beers you could find--as low at $1.59 for a six-pack, which was cheap even back then.
For whatever reason, unions, shelf-facings, consumer tastes, the locals couldn't compete and most sold out to larger brewers or went under altogether. Some have been resurrected in recent years, adopted by hipsters who drink them with irony, something I've never been able to master.
I will, however, go to "Das Rheingold" and hum the Rheingold jingle, possibly with irony.