A hundred and fifty years ago this very day, the House of Commons passed a law that would forever change the nature of British literature. I’m talking, of course, about the 1868 Law of Impartiality in Media, also known as the Product Replacement Bill.
As every British schoolchild from Abington-on-Thames to Ynysddu knows, the Product Replacement Bill was a controversial and hotly debated project, which aimed to remove all traces of product placement from major works of British literature.
The proposal was initially drafted as a reaction to the frankly absurd influence multi-national corporations wielded. Said Conservative MP for Buteshire, Charles Dalyrmple, “It is our responsibility as lawmakers to protect our countrymen from the vile and insidious tentacles of advertising. Also, only landowning men should vote.”
Controversially, once passed, the law required that previously published works be revised to conform to the new standards, and the original versions, full of name dropping, were submitted to a sealed archive, never to be read again.
Until now. In the dead of night, and not without a great deal of personal risk, I have liberated some of these first editions, and will be gradually leaking them to the public. Strap in.
You know her as the lady from the tenner, but Jane Austen is actually also a renowned writer.
Did you know, however, that she was also on the Pepsico payroll? Here, for the first time in a century and a half, are two unabridged extracts from her most famous novel, originally titled Pepsi and Prejudice.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a fizzy drink.
However little known the feelings or thirst of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their vending machines.
“My dear Mr. Lipton,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that StarbucksDoubleShot Park is let at last?”
Mr. Lipton replied that he had not.
“But it is,” returned she; “for Mrs. Manzanita Sol has just been here, and she told me all about it as we partook in an Ocean Spray cranberry juice.”
Mr. Lipton made no answer. He sipped his Gatorade.
“Do you not want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently.
“You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”
This was invitation enough.
“Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Manzanita Sol says that StarbucksDoubleShot is taken by a young man of large fortune from north of Quaker Farm; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his fairly paid employees are to be in the house by the end of next week.”
“You judge very properly,” said Mr. Lipton, “and it is happy for you that you possess the talent of serving SoBe Life Water with Doritos. May I ask whether these pleasing snacks proceed from the impulse of the moment, or are the result of previous enjoyment?”
“They arise chiefly from what is passing at the time. From what I fancy, in other words.”
Mr. Lipton’s expectations were fully answered. His cousin was as absurd as he had hoped, and he listened to him with the keenest enjoyment, chomping on his Lay’s Kettle Cooked potato chips, and, except in an occasional glance at Elizabeth, requiring no partner in his pleasure.
By Pepsi-time, however, the dose had been enough, and Mr. Lipton was glad to take a break from his SoBe Life Water to sample the entire soda line, even the positively exotic Jazz Diet Pepsi.