Dorri Partain

Does your patriotism stack up?

For the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976, which celebrated the 200th anniversary of the founding of the United States of America, hundreds of collectables were created to memorialize the occasion. Several soft drink companies produced specially labeled bottles and cans, but the Seven Up company went all in and produced a series of 50 different cans.

Not only did each can’s design feature one of the 50 states, the opposite side featured a random pattern, made up from the letters for 7UP printed in red or blue that, once stacked in a certain pattern, would create the image of Uncle Sam.

The creation of the character that would represent the U.S. took various forms during the 19th Century. In a political cartoon published in 1869, artist Thomas Nast drew a character labeled Uncle Sam, but the version drawn by James Montgomery Flagg (1877-1960) is more well-known.

In 1917, Flagg drew several versions of Uncle Sam as the United States entered World War I, with the most well-known an Army recruitment poster that featured him pointing, stating “I Want You”. Flagg used his own facial features in lue of hiring a model, making himself older and adding a goatee. The design produced by stacking the cans uses the same image.

Can number 1, Alabama, is printed with the diagram with directions for stacking the cans, with 10 cans used for the bottom row. Can number 10, Georgia, features the logo for Seven Up, and can number 50, Wisconsin, sits at the top of the stack, reading “United We Stand 1776-1976”.

Advertising supported the promotion, with magazine ads that read: A salute to our 50 states from 7 UP. Get into the spirit. Come together for Uncle Sam cans, a unique 7 UP Bicentennial commemorative series of 50 cans. Each colorful can features a map and facts about one of our 50 states. So you can satisfy your thirst for knowledge in a stately fashion. March down to your grocer where you’ll find plenty of the special 7 Up Bicentennial cans.

A purple-inked pricemark still visible on top of one of the cans shows that a six-pack of Seven Up sold for $1.46 in 1976.