ARKANSAS LEGISLATOR: BILL WOULD REQUIRE RETURN TO ‘POP TOPS’ ON ALL CANS OF BEER SOLD IN ARKANSAS
By Dr. Fred Potato
Radio Free Ozarks Editor
November 13th, 2021
All new cans of beer sold in Arkansas after January 1, 2024 would be required to sport the 1970’s-style pull ring tab opening, colloquially known as a “pop top,” under new legislation proposed by Rep. Jason Bogard (R-Davis County) for the next legislative session.
Bogard described the rationale behind the bill, labeled HB2018, during a sparsely-attended Thursday news conference in the Hindman Conference Room at the Capitol. The text of Bogard’s bill would only apply to alcoholic beer as defined under the state’s liquor laws. In keeping with the theme of the meeting, Bogard appeared to be somewhat inebriated while giving his remarks.
Bogard opened with a rough description of the bill and noted “This has been one of my priorities since I first came into the Legislature. I have spent three years trying to get the big beer companies to listen or return my calls. Now I’m going to make it the [inaudible] law of my land and they can deal with it. Decades overdue, killing this radical leftist agenda, telling me how I open a beer. Patriots, real Arkansans, should be able to drink us real beer with a real pop top, like a real man,” Bogard pointedly opined, drawings nods of approval from several older males gathered around him. “Use our manly arms and hands to grab that ring, pull that tab off, toss it and look like real 1970’s cowboys [when we] take a swig and don’t apologize to nobody. Then go piss in the creek and enjoy it,” Bogard bellowed, while swaying slightly.
Bogard’s associates at the meeting all appeared to be canned beer enthusiasts, as all of them drank from cans of beer during the news conference. Bogard introduced one of the men as his father, Earl Bogard, but appeared to blank on the names of the other men. One unidentified elderly man carried under his arm a 12-pack box, from which he offered cans of a common, watery name-brand American lager to those without. Bogard further tried to explain the bill’s language and, with a wave of his hand, dismissed any possibility that it might increase littering or raise the cost of canned beer or make it difficult or impossible to find within the state’s borders.
A pop top, which consisted of a small, teardrop-shaped piece of aluminum scored out on the top of the can and connected to another finger-sized ring of the same metal, separated from the can when it was opened. Pop tops were the most common means of opening an aluminum-canned beverage from their introduction around 1965 to their phase-out in the early 1980’s. Replacing the earlier “zip tabs” and “church key” openers that had sharp metal edges and were more prone to cause injury to the imbiber, the pop top itself came under criticism for its own sharp edges and its propensity to be discarded on the ground or possibly swallowed by the inebriated. In the 1970’s and 1980’s pop tops were commonly seen at campsites and in parking lots as trash, serving as a hazard to children and the barefooted. The anti-littering campaigns of the era succeeded in replacing the pop top with the “StaTab”, a tab of metal that stays attached to the can. While the StaTab is still in use today, the pop top still holds a certain cachet among certain overprivileged frat boy retro-hipster dumbasses.
As the news conference appeared to be nearing an end, Bogard rambled but then recovered enough to introduce a surprise guest. “Those feminized leftists can sip their Diet Coke and fizzy water with their wimpy little tabs still on the can. Pop tops were good enough for my grandpa. Pop tops were good enough for my dad here. Hell, when I was little one time he threatened to cut me with one. Heh, I deserved it. And dammit, they were good enough for Jimmy Buffett to sing about them. And hey, look who we have here.” With that, Bogard stood aside and the video projection screen behind him came to life, showing a Zoom meeting screen. Moments later the smiling visage of Jimmy Buffett, live from his home in Palm Beach, Florida, entered the video conference, creating a stir of recognition and delight from those in attendance.
The popular singer-songwriter Buffett, 75, is well-known for his songs portraying a laid-back, sun-and-surf, Florida-man-running-from-something lifestyle centering around the Florida Keys. Over a career spanning decades, Buffett’s highest-charting solo song was 1977’s “Margaritaville”, an ode to the margarita drink. The song is noteworthy for the lyric “Blew out my flip flop / Stepped on a pop top.” This famous mention of the pop top comes up in every published article about the pop top, including this one. Buffett has parlayed the song’s lasting popularity into an astonishing number of business ventures and licensed product tie-ins, including restaurants, apparel, furniture, bicycles, caskets, and food products. The latter category not surprisingly includes margarita mix, to go along with the obvious Margaritaville-branded drink blender.
“Hello Jimmy! Thank’s for popping in today,” a beaming Bogard greeted Buffett in this virtual appearance, which suffered from some minor internet dropouts. “Hello there, Jason, everybody in Arkansas, from Margaritaville,” Buffett exclaimed, apparently viewing the proceedings. “Gosh, looks like some booze in the blender, if you know what I mean. Representative Bogard, I fully endorse your effort to bring back the pop top,” Buffett announced. “It’s a good start [garbled] for the brand. I have to say, the kids, the teens, they come to the shows with their parents and I see it most every night. You know, I sing that part of the song about stepping on a pop top and grayer heads disappear for a minute because the older folks are leaning over explaining it to their kids. Anyone under 30 has no idea what the hell I’m [garbled] up there,” Buffett said as he donned a straw hat with a colorful band. “So I’m all in on this bill and I hope other states [garbled] cool as you [garbled] keeping me relevant. Parrothead approved.” Buffet grinned and gave the thumbs-up sign.
“Hey, Jimmy, I know you got to run, but how about closing us out with ‘Margaritaville’?” Bogard asked. Buffett’s smile seemed to freeze into an awkward pause, or possibly the internet connection had a stutter. “Now, Jason. You bought the ‘quick hello’ package. No song included,” Buffett replied, and reached forward to apparently end his video feed. Bogard quickly responded: “Hey, come on, Jimmy. We’re all big fans.” Buffett concluded his call by half-singing, “And you know, Jason, it’s your own damn fault.” Call ended, Bogard abruptly stumbled out of the room, the press conference apparently over. The elderly beer-drinkers were still standing around, nodding and drinking beer when this reporter was led from the room.