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Swizzle sticks may appear to be a bit of a relic from the 70s, but, in recent years, have made something of a comeback thanks to old-school nostalgia. Nostalgia tends to bring a lot of antiquated or outdated material back to the mainstream. It brought vinyl back from the grave, after all.
Swizzle Sticks may seem like an unnecessary extra (unlike vinyl, which has a practical utility), but, to some, they are a form of pop culture memorabilia. In the effort to restore these classic items to their former glory, some collectors have begun cataloguing and selling their collection of swizzle sticks, renewing interest in these little sticks in a grass roots effort to bring the swizzle stick to its former glory.
Swizzle Stick—Pop Art?
The swizzle stick is often a forgotten component of drink culture. This little plastic cocktail stirrer often is incorporated as an after thought by most bars and restaurant. However, in 1934 Jay Sindler patented swizzle sticks with the intent of using them as a form of marketing. Put the name of your company on its scale, maybe incorporate a logo, and you were in business.
From there, numerous other companies and casinos took the idea and ran with it, building upon the established swizzle stick concept by making theirs more and more elaborate. Logos. Iconography. Even elaborate little statuettes, all incorporated into the simple swizzle stick concept.
However, all this peaked in the 70s, and, since then, started to settle down to just a little novelty.
Like most collectibles, collectors have become awfully passionate about gathering all the little swizzle sticks from across the country. What many toss out as trash are laid out under glass sheets in the homes of collectors. Etsy stores sell custom-made swizzle stick replicas based on either preexisting collectible swizzle stick or original ideas.
Many collectors will post pictures of their collections, turning what was once a cheap advertising tactic into something of a modern art form. Not too surprising when one considers the origins of modern art—Andy Worhol turning the mundane soup can into an iconic portrait.
The Modern Revival
It must be noted that the swizzle stick remains dead in most modern locations. But one place it has thrived is the Tiki Bar. These places, built with a special aesthetic in mind, know that swizzle stick collectors are among their target audience, and satisfy their itch for these cocktail collectibles.
While this may be in some cases a cynical way to draw attention, it's working. Tiki Bar Hidden Harbor in Pittsburgh features all the appearances of the popular Tiki Bar—but, to distinguish itself even further, adds in the swizzle stick. A little touch that has drawn collectors and nostalgics to the place in droves.
And other bars are taking notice.
Swizzle Stick Revolutions
So between nostalgic collections and specialty bars bringing the swizzle stick back into the mainstream, what else does the future hold for our humble piece of plastic?
More casinos, bars, and hotels are investing in companies that develop these sticks. More are being ordered than ever since the 70s. It is a little early to say the swizzle stick is here to stay, but, as nostalgics seek out these things to add to their collections, it is apparent that there is a market for these cocktail accessories. And, thus, a demand that must be satisfied.
Cocktail Swizzle Sticks, Set of 4
A simple but classy accessory, these stainless steel swizzle sticks are the perfect practical addition to your party.