It seems like we just finished our last can of Sparks when Pabst Blue Ribbon found its way into our bars and parks in the mid-aughties. But, every keg must be kicked, and PBR is almost empty.
While this will come as no surprise to anyone in the hipster trenches, where it's only survived as the drink of choice for the emptiest of wallets, we have other questions. Where did it come from? How did it become popular? Why did it stick around for so long? We don't think anyone could've imagined that the brew ever would've amounted to more than a passing whimsy among a certain set, but it did. Never underestimate the power of something cheap with throwback packaging and a really smart marketing campaign.
Oh, did you think its popularity just happened? That one guy drinking it turned into one bar, one festival, one world? That's a nice idea, but this is not Etsy. This is life. The company made a very strategic decision to appeal to the countercultural sensibilities of urban creatives, and it worked. And, the politics of food have a tight grip on our sociocultural identity, so once something like PBR takes hold, it sticks.
But, the current iteration of its brand is built on the idea that it's independent. And, while that's merely perception — it was sold in 2010 to billionaire C. Dean Metropoulos, a businessman who also owns Hostess and Twinkies, for $250 million — it also doesn't matter. The job is done and the money's been made. Now that it's beyond saturation in hipster neighborhoods (see the heat map for proof) there's only one place for it to go: the aisles of a suburban grocery store. And, it's already there. (Outside)