NEW YORK. On the surface, Amelie Bernard seems content enough as the 68-year old widow sits alone in her Bleecker Street apartment surrounded by memorabilia from her youth. “We were young, we were in love and mad for the world and all its glorious prospects,” she says with a wistful smile. “Then they hung a soft drink’s name on us, and everything somehow or other turned sour.”
Bernard is referring to a several-year period beginning in 1964 when Pepsi-Cola, a carbonated soft drink, adopted “Come Alive, You’re in the Pepsi Generation” as its slogan. Adolescents who came of age during that time soon felt the burden that many experienced between the two World Wars, when legions of disaffected young people were tagged “The Lost Generation” for their inability to concentrate on simple tasks such as changing Gertrude Stein’s tires as they dreamt of a more glamorous future.
“The so-called ‘Lost Pepsi Generation’ is now retiring and faces a bleak future when they will be bombarded with commercials for adult diapers and denture adhesives that emphasize their decrepitude and not their youth,” says Morton Oswalt, a professor of geronto-sociology at the University of Massachusetts-Seekonk. “They are realizing they will never write Great American Novels or record opera-length rock albums, and many face the prospect of depression in what should be their golden years.”
“What’s there to smile about?”
Many members of the Lost Pepsi Generation became expatriates, abandoning cola drinks entirely for Wink, the Sassy One from Canada Dry, Squirt, a grapefruit-flavored concoction that its inventor called “the freshest, most exciting taste in the marketplace,” and Sprite, a delicious lemon-lime flavored beverage made by the Coca-Cola Company. “You’d see these kids walking around listlessly like zombies without caffeine,” says cultural historian Mel Girardin of the American Museum of Trivial Stuff in Concord, Mass. “It spawned a lot of B-movies that are now cult classics, like ‘Night of the Living Clearasil.’”
Wink and Squirt: Ou est les soft drinks d’antan?
The soft drink company abandoned the “Pepsi Generation” tag in 1967 in favor of “You’ve got a lot to live, and Pepsi’s got a lot to give,” setting off a massive manhunt for the preposition “for,” which was implied but not used in the slogan. “We were a whole new generation, coming at you, going strong,” notes Bernard’s friend Cynthia Carroll. “We put ourselves behind a Pepsi–we were living, we belonged!“