The Drink Carrier Tray and Symbolism
That innocuous looking item above is a drink carrier tray. For some reason, it has become the symbol of the Covid 19 pandemic now that all of the toilet paper has been re-stocked. How so you ask? Oh, you don't really want to know.....
I went to Speedway a few days back and tried to buy 4 fountain drinks. My wife specifically asked for Pepsi from the fountain and my daughter wanted to try some Cyclone Mountain Dew, which is supposedly exclusive to Speedway's fountains. For those unaware of why we can't just buy plastic bottles of soda, the fountain cups are 79 cents for up to 44 oz of liquid sugar vs 20 oz. plastic bottles which are up to $1.79 for LESS product. Easy math, you save $4 by doing the self-serve version of beverage take out.
So I got 4 different drinks and reached for the drink carrier....
No drink carrier. Walked over to the coffee section to steal one there, no drink carriers. We go to Speedway all the time, didn't know why there were no drink carriers, they're pretty good about keeping things stocked. The usual employees were all working, maybe they had a new manager.
I walked up to the registers and picked the employee that's been there for years and approached her very tentatively, "I am so sorry to bother you, but there's no drink carriers. I just need one for my drinks."
She laughed at me, "we haven't had those in over a month. You don't know how many angry customers have screamed at me because we don't have drink carriers. But I've come up with a creative solution. What I do is take a large, plastic Speedway bag and fill the bag full of drinks. Now if you grab the handles, the drinks just fall all over, and the customers are even madder, what you have to do is tie the bag in a knot, and THEN carry it. I've gotten 6 coffees in a bag without spilling....
Because Speedway is at the corner of our street, we go there, at a minimum, of once a week. The people there are all nice and recognizable. Unfortunately, I believe that one of the employees is having an affair with my wife's Uncle Xxxx who lives a few blocks away. Wow, we are really off track now.
Me: "Okay, well thank you."
Speedway Employee: "It's an amazing world we live in. Covid ravages the nation and I can still sell you gas and alcohol, but we run out of drink carriers. Who would've guessed it? We had to discontinue some items, but you'd never know it because we just re-stocked the shelves in a different way so you wouldn't notice. You also notice that we never closed? We stayed open. Yes, we had restricted hours, but now we just close for an hour overnight to clean...."
In my head, I was thinking "do I look like your Biographer?" But I just smiled and nodded.
".....but drink carriers? We order 'em, they don't send 'em. We asked other Speedways, they don't have 'em either...."
Which reminded me, the last few times I went to McDonald's they didn't have drink carriers either. Now we have 2 McDonald's in our town, the one by our house, the "Shitty McDonald's," and the one by the highway the "Good McDonald's." I simply chalked up the Shitty McDonald's not having drink carriers up to, well, they're the Shitty McDonald's.
The next day I went to Taco Bell and, lo and behold, no drink carriers.
WTF? So all of a sudden, I'm obsessed with drink carriers. I ask a few people at my work about it and they look at me like I'm high on drugs. Mentioned it to a few family members and they just ignored me. They probably think Alzheimer's is setting in.
Then I went to the internet. Could I buy some drink carriers? Sure enough I could. 25 drink carriers for....$16? Paper pulp drink carriers at 65 cents each? That seems really high.
I have mentioned this before, a long, long, time ago, I used to be a Taco Bell Manager. In my head, a single drink carrier was between 5 to 10 cents each. I didn't mind ordering them because if a customer needed them, it was better than putting 3+ pops in a bag. A drink carrier is simply the cost of doing business in bulk.
Editor's Note II:
I worked with an old-timer at Taco Bell when they were owned by Pepsi. He explained that if Pepsi sold one pop for a $1, it cost one penny for the ingredients of the drink and 99 cents was spent on distribution, marketing, profit, etc., Taco Bell could certainly absorb the cost of drink carriers. Why was it even a topic of conversation? Some toady figured out that Taco Bells across the nation could save thousands of dollars if they simply did away with drink carriers.
Big difference though between 5 to 10 cents and 65 cents. Looked at another website, 55 cents per carrier. Yet another? 70 cents per carrier. What the heck is going on? I know I haven't worked at Taco Bell in a long time, but c'mon.
Decided to go to Wikipedia (don't do that), and look up drink carriers. Maybe molded pulp prices have gone up? Molded pulp, also named moulded pulp or molded fibre, is a packaging material, that is typically made from recycled paperboard and/or newsprint. It is used for protective packaging or for food service trays and beverage carriers.
Yeah, yeah, I know, recycled paper and water, mix it in a mold. I didn't really learn anything there. How hard can making molded pulp really be?
Okay, I watched the video. I saw 1 human being in the whole video. What does a pandemic have to do with make molded pulp?