Friday, April 28, 2017

Coca-Cola and the Dukes of Hazzard - Share a Coke Dukes Bottles

Is there a more iconic brand than Coca-Cola?  The logo and the contour bottle are among the most recognizable images out there.  Disney, Ford, McDonald's, and Google come to mind, but in my opinion, Coke is at the top.  I've always loved the Coca-Cola brand.   I don't drink as much Coke as I used to, but I do enjoy an ice cold Coke from time to time.  I have several Coca-Cola t-shirts that I wear often, and even have a small collection of older glass Coke bottles that I found interesting.  A really cool marketing campaign that Coke released in 2014 is back again this year, the Share A Coke campaign.  Coke added names to their labels on regular plastic bottles sold in stores.  It was very popular and award winning.  In addition to the standard bottles in stores, fans of the product could go to and have names printed on the label of glass 8 oz. bottles.  I had to incorporate the Dukes into the fun.

 I originally tried to make these bottles when I first became away of the possibility a few years ago.  There is a screening process and Coke doesn't really tell you the guidelines.  Copyrighted material or offensive wording probably get flagged.  When I first ordered, Cooter wasn't an allowed name and I didn't want to make everyone but our favorite mechanic so I put it on hold and sort of forgot about it. While organizing items at the new museum at Cooter's in the Valley in Luray, VA (Grand Opening 05/06/2017!) there was a Coke box with custom bottles inside and one was "Cooter Davenport."  I asked Alma if she used her clout, she has clout all over the world, to get this bottle printed and she said she had nothing to do with it, it was a gift created by a fan.  I figured, maybe they let up on the requirements this time around.  And then I sort of forgot about it again.

This week I was at Sam's Club and noticed a case of plastic Coke bottles had names printed on it.  Last summer Coke changed it up and went with song lyrics which was nice, but wasn't as much fun as the names.  I went online to make sure that wasn't an old case of bottles at the discount giant and read about Coke bringing the campaign back this summer and got all excited about it again.  I returned to once more with the thought that maybe the trick to getting Cooter through the process was adding his last name, Davenport.  I made an order with all the characters last names and it went through!  Until it didn't; about an hour later I got a cancellation notice.  Coke didn't like Cooter Davenport or Cletus Hogg.  Weird that only those two were flagged.  I decided to try one more time, and this time I got through!  No last names, except one, and I even got our mechanic through!  First off is General Lee.  This was a last minute addition and I really thought it was going to get flagged.  Nope.  I got it!  Man, does it look good.  Very iconic.

Next up are the Duke Boys!  I didn't really want to include the last names and I'm glad it didn't work out doing that.  Adding too many letters makes the font a little smaller and in my opinion the bigger the name, the better.  The Coke Dukes Boys Bottles look great!

Maybe I just flew under the radar, or the flagger wasn't paying attention, but I got by the censors using "Crazy Cooter."  "Cooter" and "Cooter Davenport" didn't work (for me) but I think adding "Crazy" works out just fine.  Crazy Coca-Cola comin' at ya!

I do believe there are plastic versions of the standard bottles sold in stores with Daisy, Bo, and Luke out there.  I know I've seen Luke.  I considered chasing those, but haven't decided yet.  The glass bottle of Daisy sure is perfect.

One of the reasons I like not using the full character names is because "Uncle Jesse Duke" doesn't sound as good.  "Jesse Duke" isn't right either.  I'm glad I was able to just use Uncle Jesse.

Surely these flew under the radar because Boss Hogg would have been flagged for copyright usage, right?  I'm not complaining.  This might be my favorite in the collection.  I'm sure ol' Boss would love enjoying this Coke with some pickled pigs feet.

I debated on whether to just have "Rosco" on his bottle, but this is the one instance I went with the full name.  The font is quite small, but I think I made the right decision.  I love it, I love it.

Unlike Mego, I included both deputies.  I considered making them "Deputy Enos" and "Deputy Cletus" but they were never really referred to that way on the show.  Their first names were used most of the time, along with "Dipstick."  Possum on a gumbush, these look great.

Now you know, in my mind, I'm the third Duke Boy.

I actually made the Larry bottle way back when the promotion started and I tried to make the Dukes. I had to get it out for these pictures.  I made a Natalie bottle too.  The first year of this promotion, we found a plastic Natalie bottle at the beach and started looking for Larry.  We went to every gas station, pharmacy, and grocery store in Ocean City looking for Larry, but never found one.  When I got home, I stopped everywhere to find my name on a Coke.  I found three different variations of my sister's name, Kate, Katie, and Katherine, my cousin's name, Lara, who was named after my grandfather, Larry the first, I found my mom, Renee, Chad, Jeff & Jeffrey, and just about everyone else I knew. But no Larry.  At the end of that first summer, I had to resort to ebay for my plastic Larry bottle.  At least it was out there somewhere.  I have them in both plastic and glass now.

My collection of Dukes of Hazzard themed #shareacoke bottles sure is awesome.  This summer the twist to the campaign is that Coke is also releasing bottles with last names on them.  They haven't released a list of available names, but said they focused on about 200 popular last names and gave examples such as Miller, Smith, Lopez, and Davis.  I kind of doubt Franks is on that list, but you never know.  Duke might very well be available and if I do see one, I'm probably going to try to get as many Dukes names as I can.  Am I a little crazy?  Yup.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Grand Opening of Cooter's in Luray is May 6 & 7 Featuring Tom Wopat in Concert!

This is gong to be one great Dukes-filled summer!  In July we have the big event, Hazzard Homecoming: Cooter's Last Stand, but before that we got all kinds of great activities, starting with the Grand Opening of Cooter's In The Valley in Luray, VA on May 6 and 7.  

I visited the new store a few weeks ago and helped out with a few things.  Believe me when I say that this place is special.  Ben and Alma have put their years of experience running great Dukes of Hazzard locations toward building the perfect destination.

The Grand Opening is set for Saturday May 6 and Sunday May 7.  Along with Cooter, Luke Duke himself, Tom Wopat will be there to cut the ribbon.  You don't want to miss this event.  The ribbon cutting with Ben Jones and Tom Wopat is at 10am on Saturday.  After the meet and greets during the day on Saturday, Tom will be the first guest of the Shenandoah Jamboree concert series that will take place inside the new Cooter's Place.  Tom will be performing some well known classics as well as music from his upcoming album.

Tom's concerts are always a wonderful time.  He loves performing and it really shows when he's on stage.  The concert starts at 7 on Saturday evening and the doors open at 6.  This event requires a purchased ticket and there are only a limited number left.  Tickets are $20.  To get your tickets, you can call the Luray store at 540-843-2515 or follow this link to the Eventbrite page.

I can't wait for the Grand Opening weekend.  The new store is going to be so amazing with the museum, the cars, the new Cooter's Garage display, Cooter and Luke Duke!  Make your plans now and I'll see you May 6 and 7 in Luray, VA!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Complete McDonald's Dukes of Hazzard Happy Meal Collection

When you have the biggest TV license going like Warner Bros. did with the Dukes of Hazzard in the early '80s, it was only natural that they would end up in a McDonald's Happy Meal promotion. Thinking about it now, a classic folded Happy Meal cardboard box adorned with Dukes artwork filled with a burger, fries and a little plastic Dukes car seem like a no-brainer.  It wasn't exactly that simple.
The Happy Meal itself started as a regional promotion in 1977 and was introduced nationally in 1979, the same year the Dukes premiered.  Both were overnight successes.  Early on, the toys included were bouncy balls and small frisbees.  Figures and cars featuring Ronald McDonald and friends were the basis of the majority of the toys.  The first licensed Happy Meals were a tie-in with the first Star Trek movie and the only other licensed properties before Dukes were the Olympics and the Muppets. So when McDonald's and Dukes got together in 1982, there wasn't exactly a formula set for the Happy Meal promotions.  Though small plastic cars, either wind-up or Ertl like, would have been simple, the Dukes of Hazzard Happy Meal tie-ins that were produced are unlike any other Dukes products and rather unique in the Happy Meal collector world as well.     

When you ordered a Dukes of Hazzard Happy Meal from McDonald's in 1982, your hamburger and fries came inside a Dukes of Hazzard car shaped plastic box.  There were five different car boxes and they were very (very) thin.  I was only 1 at the time, so I have no memory of these actually in Mickey D's, but I would have to think 75% of these cars were played with in the restaurant and then thrown away with the hamburger wrappers and fry packets on the way out the door.  Given how fragile these items are, they are quite rare and fetch quite a price when sold today.  Let's take a look at each Happy Meal Dukes box.

The General Lee leads the pack, as always.  The stickers came un-attached and part of the fun was applying them.  The design of the car is faithful to the beloved Charger and it has details like the door and hood scoops.  The vector wheels look nice, through there are only 8 spokes.  They even included the roll bar.

The 01s, flag and push bar are all represented nicely with the stickers.

Each car is made up of two sections.  The top has most of the detail, and the bottom is mostly a tray to hold the food.

I have two General Lees.  One has the stickers attached and one doesn't.  Neither are in perfect condition because these things are incredibly thin and flimsy.

The sticker sheet does accompany my blank General Lee.  Included with all the Gen'ral livery are McDonald's license plate stickers.  That's a funny addition.

Stickers seem to have been a big deal in the '80s.  I remember having a sticker book and so did my sister.  Applying all of these beauties to the car would be a nice way to keep the young Dukes fans occupied in the booth while their parents enjoyed two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions, on a sesame seed bun.  Jeezs oh whiz, I am a product of marketing; I didn't even have to look that jingle up.

The bottom pieces include two very iconic logos.  The Golden Arches look great next to the classic Dukes logo in classic Dukes font.  I'm not sure which part of the year in 1982 these were released. Surprisingly there is not a definitive Happy Meal database online.  Get it together McFans!  ( I kid).

Next up is Sheriff Rosco's Patrol Car.  I bought and entire set of these cars probably over ten years ago.  I've never displayed them and always sort of kept them packed away because I didn't want them to get damaged.  It wasn't until taking pictures for this blog post that I discovered that my Rosco car didn't have the correct decals applied.  Some Dukes fan along the way applied more correct stickers from a model set to my first Rosco Happy Meal box.  It looks quite good.

They also had James Best autograph it at some point.

The body definitely looks like the correct Dodge Monaco.

I guess I didn't pay attention to the partially used sticker sheet that came with the set.  The actual police signage is still attached.  This person also didn't adhere the McDonald's license plates.  They were going for realism.

I do have an un-stickered patrol car as well.  I bought the two stickerless cars together and blogged about them in 2012.  A lot of detail went in these stickers.

It was very important that everyone knew which way was the front of these boxes.

The back of the sticker sheets had the trademark information and instructions.  I wonder if the person who wrote the phrase "Collect a complete set" thought that we would be doing just that 35 years later. Would you look at that, this post marks the 35th anniversary of the Dukes of Hazzard Happy Meal. Congratulations!

The next three cars are more rare than the General and patrol car.  I only have one each of them.  First up is Uncle Jesse's Pickup.  It included a larger McDonald's sticker so the previous owner threw it on the passenger door.  Doesn't look to bad.

Jesse's side doesn't have the arches.  I'm not sure if only one of those stickers was included or if the sticker applyer left one off.

The other details include the grill, windows, wheels, and little turning lights.  There's also a little McD's license plate.

The bed isn't as deep to make room for the single burger.  Or maybe you went with the cheese burger. I wonder when McDonald's started including chicken McNuggets in the Happy Meal.

The final two cars in the set look a little different than we normally remember them.  Boss Hogg's Cadillac has the convertible roof up.  This is, again, to make room for the scrumptious fast food inside.  The only time I remember seeing the roof up on Boss's Caddy is in the second episode, Daisy's Song, when Boss has to hightail it out of Atlanta when the feds raid his crooked recording studio.  

The bull horns aren't present on the Caddy, but admittedly, they would be quite difficult to pull off.

The different windows and lights make up the bulk of the stickers on Boss's ride.  Maybe if you ordered the Boss Hogg special, you got several burgers and extra fries.

The final car in the set also had to accommodate the food inside so Daisy's Dixie Jeep has the hard top covering the back seat.  I can't remember a single time when the Jeep wasn't topless on the show. It did have doors on it when it was given to Daisy by millionaire oil tycoon C. J. Holmes in the episode The Runaway after Bo and Luke drove her Roadrunner off a cliff.

The doors aren't present on Happy Meal Dixie, and the stickers simulate an open front seat.  I wonder if it was a mistake or a conscience effort to change the markings from Dixie to Daisy on the hood of the Jeep on items like this and diecasts.   Is it to make sure girls are included in a toy line mostly geared toward boys? Is it so they know for sure that this vehicle belongs to our heroine?  Those are the sort of questions I wonder about.

The famous Golden Eagle is flying high on the hood of Daisy's Jeep.  There are a lot of details to his Happy Meal box.

The McDonald's license plate is built-in to the spare tire here.

None of my cars are in perfect condition, but they all display very well.  From this angle, the Gen'ral almost looks like he has something to say like Pixar's Cars.

Also in 1982, McDonald's released a set of Dukes of Hazzard character cups.  I'm not exactly sure if these came out at the same time as the Happy Meals, though that would make sense.  I am almost certain these were not included with the Happy Meals; your drink that accompanied the Happy Meal car box didn't come in these cups.  I think they were a separate promotion at the same time.  Cups sold separately.

This time let's start with beautiful Daisy.  Each cup had the same picture repeated on two sides with the show logo on it.  The original artwork is unique to these cups.

In between the pictures is McDonald's logo.  They are made of sturdy plastic and meant to last.  They are much stronger than the flimsy Happy Meal boxes.

Sheriff Rosco's cup includes ol' Velvet Ears, Flash.  The artwork is different than any we've seen on other products.  It has a realistic line art feel.  I really like it.

Boss Hogg looks like he would've gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling Dukes.  My Boss Hogg cup doesn't have the crispest ink on it.  It seems the printing had an issue and it isn't as vibrant.  It's not all Boss Hogg cups that have this issue as the ones I've handled at Cooter's are more vibrant.  That's just how it goes.

Uncle Jesse's cup seems to be the most recognizable image that was taken from a press photo.

This photo of the Dukes patriarch was clearly used to make the image on the cup.  McDonald's seems to have given Jesse a little smirk though.

Luke looks a little too white haired in this image.  Don't get me wrong, as a someone who started going gray at age 18, I have firsthand knowledge on how great a man can look with white hair, but Luke sure wasn't going gray on Dukes.  McDonald's could have spared a little more black ink for this cup.  It seems both Bo and Luke's artwork used a few too many lines on their faces.

Bo never had that many laugh lines.  John still doesn't.  Bo and Luke's McDonald's cups are my least favorite.  But besides the choice of line art used to create the images, all the details are correct on these cups.  They are great additions to any collection.  They are not as rare as the Happy Meals boxes, and for some reason it seems Luke is the most difficult to find.  Weird how that works out sometimes.  Bo is the most common.  It's unexpected that Luke would be the most rare similarly to how the 1/144 Cooter's Tow Truck is the second most common behind the General Lee and the patrol car is the hardest to find.  Weird.

The bottom of each cup has he Warner Bros in formation on it.

There is one item I don't have from the Dukes of Hazzard McDonald's collection.  Above is a picture of the in-restaurant display of Boss Hogg holding the General Lee Happy Meal box.  This picture was taken from an ebay auction years ago that I didn't win.  I would love to get my hands on one.  I really like the artwork on the display. It is very different from the art on the cups.  Anyone out there have one they would like me to have?  Please?

Preparing for this post, I was thinking about why McDonald's created food holding boxes for the Dukes instead of actual toy cars.  Maybe the companies that were awarded the toy making licenses like Ertl, Mego, and Knickerbocker didn't want any more competition or had no compete contracts. I've spoken with Duke fans who thought they remember getting the Knickerbocker Wrist Racer wind-up cars in a Dukes Happy Meal, but they were remembering it wrong.  One fan described to me a Dukes themed birthday party at McDonald's that involved each kid taking home a wind-up General Lee or police car, but we discovered that the parents bought the cars beforehand.  The McDonald's Dukes of Hazzard collection is a great instance of items that are sought after by Dukes fans as well as other collectors like McDonald's collectors and folks who just collect pop culture memorabilia.