I pity the fool who doesn't like this ad
A&W isn't alone in this, even in the soda industry. Pepsi made several moves along these lines recently: first they spent over $1 million to redo their logo into something that looks just like their old logo but has a stripe in the middle that resembles a smile (it also just happens to resemble the Obama campaign logo as well, coincidentally), and now they've introduced several new products, Pepsi Throwback, Mountain Dew Throwback, and Pepsi Natural. The two "Throwback" sodas have retro packaging and - gasp - real sugar. You see, in America, the use of real sugar hearkens back to a happier age. Pepsi Natural goes one step further in that it uses actual kola nut extract in the recipe as well as real sugar (and it comes in a nifty glass bottle).
Whether the A&W ads are part of some sneaky nostalgia marketing campaign or not, it is in fact the 90th anniversary of A&W, and to celebrate in a suitably nostalgic way, the owner of the A&W Drive-In in Lodi threw a birthday bash complete with a classic car show, a live band playing retro hits like Dream Lover (and yes, CCR's Lodi), and "7-foot-tall ambassador of fun" himself, the A&W Root Beer Bear. Naturally, I had to go.
I'm sure it was somewhat of a different town 40 years ago, but despite what John Fogerty claims, Lodi's really not a bad place in which to be stuck. This is probably getting off on a dangerous tangent, but this is just further evidence that John Fogerty isn't always a trustworthy source. After all, CCR's The Royal Albert Hall Concert album was actually recorded in Oakland, California, I highly doubt elephants were actually playing in the band (tambourines, maybe), and he wasn't born on the bayou like he claimed, he was born in Berkeley, making his twangy "hoyd it through the grape vahn" accent and use of words like "hoodoo" highly suspect.
I suppose if you were "lookin' for fame and foytchun" in the music industry Lodi may not be the place to look, but it is quite a charming little town, especially in the old downtown and the surrounding tree-lined residential neighborhoods. Plus Lodi also has an arch, prettier (albeit less slogany) than the one I saw recently in Modesto.
Classic cars and A&W Root Beer
I don't know much about old cars, but I like them. I can't tell you the difference in the tail fins between a '58 and a '59 El Dorado, in fact I'm only mildly confident they had tail fins at all in those years. Mostly what I can do, and I'm quite good at this, is look at old cars and say, "Oooh, car pretty."
Sadly (but sensibly) they were only serving floats in paper cups on the festival day, and big frosty glass mugs greatly improve a root beer float. Still, I'm not one to complain with RBF in hand.
Lodi's actually really close to the Bay Area (so John Fogerty shouldn't have had a hard time getting back home), and the drive through the Sacramento-San Joaquin River delta is one of the nicest ways to cross the valley. The 100 year anniversary will be 10 years from now — maybe they can line up a CCR reunion concert...