College is full of memories – some hazier than others, perhaps. Classmates, parties, professors, sporting events, and more fill up our heads with recollections years after we’ve left the 04469. But for the packrats out there (I include myself), often times life’s memories will take a physical shape…in the form of STUFF. Concert posters might remind us of the time Method Man and Redman didn’t show up in Orono to perform. Of course you kept the puck that came into the stands during a particularly heated Black Bears-BU game. Or maybe it’s the program from the play in Hauck Auditorium where you took your date out for the first time. Here’s a quick stroll down a UMaine-themed memory lane.
In 1992-93, Orono was the center of the college hockey world – if you’re a UMaine fan at all, you know the significance of 42-1-2. That special Black Bear team was truly destined to win it all, and did so in spectacular fashion. This first hockey championship brought many things to UMaine – solid credibility for the athletic program, national recognition for the campus, and… STUFF. Stuff to remember this historic season, like the still-amazing 42-1-2 video (I couldn’t watch local TV as a teen without seeing ads for this thing for a loooong time). Hockey jersey sales went through the roof – all the cool kids at school wore Maine Hockey gear.
And then there was the UMaine Hockey Championship Commemorative Coca Cola Bottle. Back in 1989, Coca Cola began making and marketing special-release, eight-ounce commemorative bottles for special occasions. They were usually geographically specific, as was the case with UMaine’s bottles or the 1999 Francofete Louisana Tricentennial (I assume), but when the Olympics came around, I remember seeing the same small glass bottles with Barcelona or Atlanta’s logos along the labels. All in all, more than 1,000 celebratory Coke bottles have been produced in 25 years, celebrating everything from Christmas to the Okmulgee, Oklahoma Pecan Festival. But in 1993, Coke made the UMaine Hockey Bottle, and all of us little Maine sports fiends wanted them.
I still have my Black Bears bottle. It sits on a window sill in our TV/exercise room, with a hockey puck from a Maine Mariners game and a souvenir Quebec Nordiques hockey stick from an 8th grade class trip to Quebec City. It’s empty, of course – I was 14, after all, so I wanted that soda and didn’t consider the implications of it ever being a collectible. And I’m still glad I drank it. Who wants a 21-year-old bottle of soda, anyway?
Well, if you do, there are options to find them, thanks to the WWW. And they won’t set you back all that much, really. Five or ten bucks, you can have your very own (full) Black Bears Coke Bottle. But a warning: it probably won’t be the same as finding one on your own when you were a kid, popping the top and chugging down the super-sweet cola, and keeping that bottle on your desk through high school, college, and beyond.