Newest Bottles

Nice selection of bottles from my recent, latest jaunt to Michigan. Highlights include the “Pluto Water: America’s Phisic” bottle with the image of Pluto/Hades/Satan on the bottom; the bottle of Sun-Drop soda (“ITS INVIGORATING PICK-UP and REFRESHING QUALITY is taken from the COCOA BEAN”); a green Dr. Pepper bottle with their former “10-2-4” clock logo (allegedly marking “Dr. Pepper times”); and an old apothecary’s bottle of sarsaparilla. Score!

Some day I’ll finish taking better pictures of all of my bottles (I have about 150 or so) and run them on a page on my site. Because that’s what the world needs, man. More shit on the Internet.

I Can Haz Cannibalizm Bacon?

Let’s imagine that through some set of circumstances, you end up attending a soda pop bottle collectors’ convention. Perhaps, like me, you collect soda pop bottles, and turning up at such a convention wouldn’t be a surprise to you (I haven’t attended any myself), but in this instance let’s assume you don’t give a damn about soda pop bottles. You don’t hate them, but they fail to set you afire, let’s say.

At first, as you walk around, you might be mildly impressed by the beauty of the bottles on display: some possess eye-catching art, others have pleasing shapes. Perhaps some of the collectors are perfectly lovely people, plainly excited about their hobby and willing to share the joy of soda-pop bottle collecting with you. Some are more exuberant and/or socially awkward than others, but mostly they seem to be a pleasant, harmless lot. You may not be able to follow their conversations about grading or ACLs, but it’s clear they’re enjoying themselves, and no one is buttonholing you to joyfully scream about the 1952 seven ounce Grapette bottle they discovered in a Muskegon landfill.

Still, after a time, you tire of hearing about bottles. That’s understandable. The convention center exits are clearly marked, and you’re not chained to a column, so there’s nothing keeping you there.

Yet, you remain, and you continue to walk about. But now the tone and endless onslaught of soda-pop bottle trivia and trading is growing grating. I must stress, you could leave, but instead you visit each table, hoping someone will start talking about flyfishing, SOPA, Artemisia Gentileschi, or Indian food. You bring up these subjects, and you generate a mild conversation or two about them, but soon you’re back to bottles, bottles, bottles. You exhale a sigh of disgust and walk off to another part of the center.

Eventually, you find a group of your friends—all of whom, for the purposes of analogy, are exchanging empty bottles that once contained Heep Good orange pop, Top Hat seltzer water, Kayo chocolate soda, O•So•Grape elixir, and others. They’re having a grand old time, and when they see you they wave you over.

“Aren’t you guys SICK of talking about bottles?” you ask.

Startled, they look to one another, and your best friend says, “Uh, no. It’s fun! what’s your favorite soda pop bottle?”

“But it’s NOT fun,” you gripe. “It’s just so overdone. I’m sick of hearing about it.”

They look at you sympathetically—these are your friends, after all—but ask, “Well… You do realize you’re at the annual soda pop bottle convention, right? And Bob and Jane over here, well, they’ve just gotten into it.”

“Yeah! It’s superduper fun!” says Bob, happily. You shoot him a withering glare.

“But you’ve been talking about it for days now. Isn’t it time to discuss something else?” you say.

One of your friends shrugs and says, “I… guess… but we’re really enjoying ourselves.”

“But I’m not!” you say. “I want to talk about something else! Like jai alai or French cinema or Anjelica Houston.”

“Hey, you’re in luck!” another friend says, cheerfully. She points to a staircase across the center. “Upstairs they’re holding the convention for aficionados of French movies starring Anjelica Houston as a jai alai player! And it’s free! Actually, I was thinking of going up there after this, so we could…”

You begin to stomp your feet and shake your little fists in the air.


Your friends look at you askance.

“Maybe you could go home for a little while and then come back later? You know, take a break. We’ll be done soon.” says your best friend.

“Yeah, let’s go to the bar next door and have a drink. And we’ll talk about whatever you like!” says your cousin. “Before we go though, check out this hilarious soda pop bottle I found! It has a kitty-cat on it!”

“NO, NO, NO, NO, NO!!!” You scream. You start overturning tables and breaking bottles like Christ cleansing the Temple.

“Everyone must talk about things according to my schedule! Everyone must cease enjoying a hobby when I declare it! Anyone who hasn’t laughed at a joke by a certain time and date MUST BE FORBIDDEN TO LAUGH AT IT EVER AGAIN!” you bellow. “Arrrgggh! This is why America is in danger! This is why people are stupid! Once things were good, but now they are bad! Argggh! Evil has a face, and it is soda pop bottle collectiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing!”

When you finish, you find yourself panting, sweaty, and standing on a mountain of glass, the collectors dazed and breathless and more than a few—your friends included—glaring and wondering why you’re so damned worked up.

Then you look across the center and see someone eating a ham sandwich. Except the ham isn’t stuck between two pieces of bread… IT’S STUCK BETWEEN TWO LARGE SQUARES OF GRAPE JELL-O!

“Ha ha ha! Hey, look guys!” you say, stumbling with bloodied feet across the field of glass. “A Jell-O sandwich! Ha ha! Well, if that isn’t the ever-living, ever-loving end!” You take a picture of it, intending to share it with everyone you meet on the way home. “Say, guys…” you ponder, turning back to your friends, “What other things could you make with Jell-O!?! Ha ha! Bacon Jell-O! Badger Jell-O! Zombie Jell-O! Lutefisk Jell-O! HA HA HA HA! Man, this is KOOKY!”

At once, everyone in the convention center forgives you, and you all begin amassing and sharing thousands upon thousands of Jell-O recipes and photographs.

Something you know you’ll never ever get tired of doing.

Mr. Dan Kelly’s Pop Bottle Collection

I collect pop bottles. I can’t recall when I started, but I wouldn’t doubt it happened around Christmastime in 1996. I drove up to Michigan with my girlfriend (now wife) to meet her parents for the first time, and quickly discovered that not much happens in Grand Haven and Muskegon during the winter months (unless you’re a outdoorsman, which I’m not). When I wasn’t chatting with my future in-laws, playing board games, reading, drinking, or watching cable TV, I was concentrating on a spot on the wall, wondering how the natives kept from going mad.

Then my brother-in-law, an antiquarian, took me along on a search of his favorite shops along US 31. I’d sorta-kinda went antiquing before in Chicago on Belmont Ave., but everything I wanted was prohibitively expensive. My antique scores mostly came from garage sales and thrift shops, but again, in Chicago, pickings were slim.

Grand Haven, Holland, and Muskegon, however, provided great deals on nifty old stuff—and there was so damn much of it. I’m sure the perpetually lousy economy up there was part of it, but the fact that suave urbanites like myself rarely came through the area probably helped. On that trip my brother-in-law picked up an old oil-powered slide projector while I found a Medinah Shriner’s fez, a few comics, and an unusual pop bottle. I can’t remember which bottle was my first, but I bet I based it on my current criteria for collectability:

1. Applied-color label (that is, labels applied directly to the bottle, not paper labels; though I do have a few of the latter).

2. Beautiful/interesting/crazy art.

3. Favorite pops from my youth (RC, Dr. Pepper, Kayo, Crush, and a few more obscure sodas)

3. Optimistic names, or names that otherwise promise health, social status, and happiness.

I have about 138 bottles right now, give or take, and I built a display rack for them that currently sits in my basement. I’ve been meaning to photograph and share them on the site, but I could never quite figure out how to properly shoot pictures of the clear ones with raised images and labels. I came across a site about taking pictures of fine crystal, and they suggested building the following set up.

That’s two sheets of black matte paper from the art store, and two pieces of cardboard painted white. The bottom black matte paper has a hole cut into it, and it (currently) rests on a large camping flashlight. I want to build a better base with a brighter, electrical bulb, but for now, this will do. See the results of my first bottle photo session below! Comments? Suggestions?

I Collect Soda Pop Bottles

My latest acquisitions from a neat little antique store in International Falls, MN. If you weren’t aware that I collected bottles, my criteria are simple.

1. I prefer fired-on labels. But since most modern pops (I’m from the Midwest and Chicago, so I call it “pop”) have paper labels, I’m willing to give a local pop with a paper/printed label  a place in my collection if it’s (a) tasty and (b) particularly striking. Mostly, I like the fired-on labels. They just look better. Plastic bottles are anathema to me.

2. Beautiful/interesting/crazy art.

3. Optimistic names, or names that promise health, social status, and happiness.

Maybe I’ll start photographing my entire collection and run it here.

Fun fact: Most antique soda pop bottles are recovered from old privies.