Bumper to Bumper

By Charles Morgan III


Forest P. Gill invented bumper stickers in the 1940s. He was a silkscreen printer from Kansas City. I doubt he foresaw the variety of uses they serve today.


A recent study showed that on an automobile that was driven 20,000 miles in a year—in a city of one million people—300,000 people noticed the imprint of the car dealer who sold the vehicle. That is a lot of inexpensive exposure. Bumper stickers are meant to be more noticeable than an auto dealer’s logo.


Today bumper stickers tout political candidates, vacation destinations, positions on social issues, and lots more.


My truck has stickers that represent restaurants that I’m involved in. I also have a two-year-old bumper sticker of a candidate for president who didn’t win. I guess it’s still on there because I wish he had won.


The stickers that I find most unusual have nothing to do with politics.



Several years ago, this seemed to be everywhere. When I asked my oldest son what “SALT LIFE” represented, I think he just took a wild guess. “I think it’s a sticker company,” Eddie said.


He was correct. A very popular sticker company. Apparently, it was a favorite of people who had visited the beach and liked it. Or maybe they were enamored of the boating, fishing, surfing, scuba diving or just sun tanning lifestyle.


The sticker company got so popular they now have a full line of clothing appealing to “SALT LIFE” aficionados and they even operate restaurants so that people who find “SALT LIFE” appealing can dine together.



Yeti coolers cost too much. Way too much. They are supposed to keep ice ice longer. The old Coleman coolers that kept ice for a couple of days apparently were not good enough. Or maybe, at $19.95 they were too cheap. So along comes a $600 cooler that provides so much insulation that there is barely room for anything to keep cold. Whatever. It doesn’t seem that a sticker is needed on the back of a truck to alert fellow drivers that you have a $600 cooler in your possession.



Costa Del Mar sunglasses cost $300. They cost about $5 to make. Okay, so you really think they are better than any other glasses? Well, maybe. But probably not.


But even if you like them, do you like them enough to place their sticker on the back of your pick up truck so that everyone knows you can afford them? That is sort of a weird statement.



There are all kinds of NRA and Second Amendment stickers out there. Some even go so far as to alert people that you carry an arsenal of guns in your vehicle. You know, so you can stand your ground. Do you know what most bandits are interested in stealing? Your guns. Is it really smart to let potential thieves know that there is a treasure trove of what they’re looking for in your car?



Okay, now what? A congratulations? A nod of the head and a sweet smile? Are we supposed to adjust our driving technique to avoid crashing into the baby? Is there really a baby in there?



What is this exactly? Stickers where every member of a family is represented by childlike drawings? Does it mean anything? Should we applaud this as some sort of accomplishment? I’m confused.


Actually, I’m not confused. I’m just out of ideas for a column that I’d prefer not to be too controversial. If you have any ideas, please let me know. Or go ahead and write one yourself. Thanks.

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