William Burroughs and Cigarettes


“Everything counts in small amounts. Everything, everything. Everything, everything. All the minutiae matters. El hombre invisible comes into focus only if you shift through enough details. It has always struck me that Ted Berrigan drank Pepsi, not Coke. He is emphatic on this point. It is one of the ten things he did every day along with eat lunch and make noises. You can tell a lot about a man in observing what he drinks. An alternative to Coca-Cola, Pepsi sales first rose during the Great Depression when marketed as a drink for the price conscious. ‘Twice as much for a nickel, too.’ Drinking Pepsi was a sign of class, economically speaking. In the 1940s, it became a sign of race as well when Pepsi began inroads into the ‘Negro market,’ selling specifically to the previously neglected African American consumer. Coca-Cola was viewed as racist as the company, based in Atlanta, refused to hire African American executives and its chairman had ties to white supremacy. Pepsi sales rose dramatically and Pepsi became associated with African American drinkers. So much so there was a backlash within the company and the president was on record as saying, ‘We don’t want it to become known as a nigger drink.’ In the 1960s, when Berrigan championed Pepsi, the marketing department shifted its focus to the youth market. ‘Now it’s Pepsi for those who think young.’ ‘Come alive, you’re the Pepsi Generation’ Such were the slogans of Pepsi until the Summer of Love. Maybe Berrigan drank Pepsi for its taste alone, but there was also a progressive and countercultural history associated with the soft drink in opposition to Coke that might have appealed to his social and political tastes as well. Burroughs’ favorite drink was vodka and coke. Maybe somebody out there can confirm, but it seems to me that he did not use Pepsi as a mixer. Coca-Cola was mother’s milk after all. Laura Lee arranged flowers on the Coca-Cola dime and given the company’s policies throughout Burroughs’ youth it is the type of corporation that Ivy Lee would have done PR for.  …”
Reality Studio

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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