I wasn’t allowed to watch unlimited amounts of television when I was growing up, which I suspect was the case with many people my age. I remember commercials with almost as much clarity as the shows I used to watch. As far as I’m concerned, those ad-men and women of the 1980s more than earned their keep, with the memory of those catchy jingles and imagery seared into my brain as indelibly as the contents of my multiplication table flash cards. Much credit also belongs to the designers of logos and packaging, some of which have seen only evolutionary changes over the course of decades.
Hours of watching “The Price Is Right” during the summer or on sick days spent home from school added to my familiarity with the brands stocking the cupboards at the Dennis household. I’m sure my mom also welcomed host Bob Barker’s presence with open arms during that hour-long program, giving her a break from me asking for things like more soup, crackers, and Vernor’s ginger ale to soothe my stomach, whether or not I was actually sick (citing a statute of limitation on that last point). I mean, who was Dinty Moore, anyway, and how did he (or she) come up with the recipe for that delicious, canned beef stew named after him or her?
The mind is a funny thing in that mine has sometimes formed associations with things that are completely unrelated, at least on the surface. As far back as I can remember, the logo for the Chevrolet Caprice has reminded me of the crown from the packaging of Imperial margarine. We always had margarine in the fridge, which we used to spread on Jiffy brand corn muffins my mom would bake and serve with Sunday “dinner” (lunch, in Midwestern-speak). I don’t remember if we had margarine versus butter because my dad’s health required it, or for some other reason along the same lines as why we kids weren’t allowed to have pop or “sugar” cereals, but what I do know is that the memory of those corn muffins and how good they tasted may have me going to the grocery store. In a jiffy.
The resemblance was so strong in my mind between the logos for the Caprice and Imperial margarine that before I started writing this, I had to search the internet for vintage packaging for Imperial to make sure this (admittedly loose) premise wasn’t too far-fetched. As it turns out, they really don’t have that much in common. The Caprice’s emblem sort of resembles a crown. It looks like something that could fit on someone’s head, and the fleur de lis in the center of it is not unlike a royal crest. It’s also golden, as a crown should be. The Imperial logo, however, is… an actual crown. It’s a fairly simple graphic, sharing little with the Caprice emblem outside of loosely having a pentagonal shape and a few similar curves.
I’m at a complete loss as to how this association between the two had formed in my mind. Maybe I had watched a contestant on “TPIR” correctly price a package of Imperial margarine within ten cents (or some margin) in order to win a new Chevy Caprice. The truth is that I don’t remember a whole lot of Caprices being given away on that game show, with most Chevrolet-branded prizes being lower models like Cavaliers, Spectrums, Sprints, or the occasional Camaro.
These pictures are now five years old, but I do remember being impressed at the time I took them with the condition of this non-Classic Caprice, with its year and trim designation confirmed by a license plate search. The base Caprice was the most popular of the line that year (owing much to fleet sales), accounting for almost 70,000 of 197,000 sold that year, or just over one-third of total production. To me, and regardless of its position on the Chevy B-Body totem pole, that’s enough to qualify both this model and example as royalty in my mind, even outside of the perennial popularity of the “Box Caprice”. It deserves a crown.
Wrigleyville, Chicago, Illinois.
Friday, November 6, 2015.