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7Up and the early buying season

By |  November 7, 2019 0 Comments
Photo: Karl Danneberger

Karl Danneberger

When I was sick growing up, my mom would make me drink 7Up. She thought it had medicinal properties and would take care of my ills. 7Up, which I now find at my grocery store on the bottom shelf of the soft drink aisle, hit the market two weeks before the 1929 stock market crash.

7Up was a cool soft drink. It came in 7-ounce green bottles, had a lemon-lime taste and was uncaffeinated. In comparison, Coke came in 6-ounce bottles and was caffeinated. When originally formulated, 7Up and Coke contained mood-enhancing or stabilizing drugs. With Coke, it was cocaine, and with 7Up, it was lithium citrate.

At the turn of the 20th Century, lithium citrate was a psychiatric treatment for depression and bipolar disorder and was seen as a hangover cure. The name “7Up Lithiated Lemon Soda” preceded 7Up.

The paper label on 7Up Lithiated Lemon Soda read, “Seven-Up Settles the Stomach,” and “For hospital or home use.” Further down, the label read, “… It blends out the harsh features. Dispels hangovers. Takes the ‘ouch’ out of grouch.” Released during the Great Depression, 7Up probably helped relieve a little personal depression.

In 1948, the federal government banned lithium citrate from soft drinks and thus from 7Up. Twenty years later, even with the removal, my mom and thousands of other moms still poured 7Up as an elixir.

From the 1940s to the early ’70s, 7Up was the third-bestselling soft drink, behind Coke and Pepsi. In 1972, 7Up was running ads that branded it as the Uncola, with no caffeine — “Never had it. Never will.” The ’70s were the peak for the brand. 7Up had declined to 2-percent market share by 2000, then to a 1-percent share in 2010. I don’t think most millennials know what 7Up is.

7Up declined for several reasons, including the introduction of diet soft drinks, energy drinks and, for some reason, a constant change in advertising. Since the “Uncola” run ended in the early 1990s, 16 different advertising campaigns have taken place.

Fall is a critical time in golf course management. The early order period for turf products occurs roughly from October through December, depending on the company or vendor. There will be numerous product options available during early order, with various discounts, promotions and advertising. It’s like walking down the soft drink aisle of a grocery store. There are so many choices. Do you stay with what you always buy, try something new based on the label or just find something to pick up?

Golf course superintendents need an agronomic plan that focuses on providing healthy turf and meeting the expectations of golfers and/or members.

Before purchasing products, focus on what pests you need to control and, in a generic way, define the product properties you desire. For example, will you take a preventive or curative approach? Do you want to use a contact or systemic? What’s your desired control period? Finally, what’s the chemical family you prefer to use? We make decisions too often based only on cost and the effectiveness of advertising.

By clearly focusing on what you need in the context of your agronomic program, discussion with sales representatives can occur in an informed manner regarding the type of product you desire.

I have collected 7Up bottles for a few years. Why, exactly, I’m not sure. Maybe as a childhood memory or just for their uniqueness of being green. I store the bottles on a garage shelf. I occasionally get them out and look at them. Early buy programs, however, are not for collectors.

Golf course superintendents need to be methodical and informed when choosing early order products, rather than just buying something. Sound agronomic plans prevent purchases that end up on the bottom shelf of a maintenance facility.

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