Some 15 years ago, I was walking in Fells Point and I passed a soda vending machine outside what used to be the old Save-a-Lot grocery store. (There's some new ghetto mart there now, but I forget its name.)
The machine contained not Coke, not Pepsi, not Dr. Pepper, not Mountain Dew...not even Diet Rite. Instead, it unashamedly vended Bubba Cola, the Olympia lager of soft drinks, along with its companion beverages, Diet Bubba and Crisp!, the latter being some sort of vile aspartame concoction with ersatz citrus flavoring.
I boggled for a moment, picturing an economic state so benighted that one was forced to resort to something called Bubba Cola; a depth of deprivation so hopeless that even Mr. Pibb was an occasional indulgence, and Coke constituted a luxury beyond aspiration.
Bubba Cola. The very name spoke of laziness bordering on disrespect coming from the boys in branding.
"Hey, whaddya wanna call this disgusting swill, anyway?"
"Who cares? Toxi Cola? Prole-a-Cola? Bubba Cola?"
"Bubba Cola. Beautiful. C'mon, I'm in the mood for some off-track betting."
That's assuming, of course, that a branding department was involved at all. Hadn't thought of that. Anyway, after that one sighting I never encountered Bubba, Diet Bubba, or Crisp! again. I chalked it up to a failed marketing experiment, or perhaps a figment of my imagination. I told my friends about it, but they wouldn't believe me. I began to feel like an alien abductee - mocked, disbelieved, pitied, yet curiously tenacious in my delusion.
So you can imagine the sense of vindication I felt the other night while standing in the rain on North Avenue, when I glanced down at my feet and saw the box depicted above. It was empty, yes. It was soggy and flattened. But still, it was proof undeniable at long last, after all those years of scorn and doubt. In your face, hatas!