Monday, March 30, 2009

Deposit Bottles

If I remember correctly, 6-16 ounce bottles were five cents, 26 ounce bottles were ten cents, and Mother's Pride (1 quart, the biggest size before the advent of PET containers) bottles were fifteen cents. In 1973, when the Colton High School Yellow Jacket Marching Band was raising money for our summer European tour, we raised a heck of a lot of money from collecting pop bottles from many of the citizens of Colton and Grand Terrace.

Remember what supermarkets looked like then? Just past the front doors were baskets and baskets of dirty returned empty bottles.

In October 1979 I left California for Berlin, Germany, for duty with the Berlin Brigade (298th Army Band) of the United States Army. At the PX and Commissary, all of the American soda pop was sold in 12 ounce cans. They said that's the way it always was and I was accustomed to it.

But when I returned to California in 1982, it didn't look any different than the US military stores in Germany. There was a huge void in the supermarkets. No deposit glass bottles. In time the space would be occupied by plastic bottles, but this marked a new era in beverage history.

25 years later, when I was living in Saigon, Vietnam, I bought some Tiger beer at the local supermarket in glass bottles. The price marked was 12,000 dong (about US $.80 then). But the cashier charged me 14,000 dong. The reason? I had to pay a 2,000 dong (12.5 cents) deposit. My girlfriend had left a lot of beer bottles in the house. So the next time I went to buy beer I took seven bottles to the store and didn't pay anything!

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