Stella beer bottle: Cairo, Egypt, 1994

True, not an especially good beer: thin, flavorless, and inconsistent.  Urban legend had it that any number of odd and unwelcome objects had been found at the bottom of still-sealed bottles.  Yet for anyone who lived in Cairo in the mid-1990s, before the privatization of Al-Ahram Beverages, there is no denying the fond feeling conjured up by the signature green glass and poorly-applied yellow label of the old Stella bottle.  It lent Cairo the feeling of a dusty outpost, anachronistic in its own era.  A popular item for sale in the tourist shops in the Khan el-Khalili souk captured the spirit of the times: a t-shirt with a rendering of the Stella label and the Nietzchean claim “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”  An improved Stella is still sold under a modified label that conjures up no fond feeling in anyone.

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