Home Today's Reason to Drink January 19: The Neon Sign Is Patented

January 19: The Neon Sign Is Patented


On this day in 1889, the neon advertising sign was patented. Suddenly drunks would no longer have to wonder, “Is that a bar?” Back in the day, the international symbol for a good time was a neon Martini glass with the word “Cocktails” helpfully spelt below. They lit up every downtown in America, promising refreshments and relaxation. Sadly, starting in the 1980s, the usual uptighties began thinking flashing neon was somehow garish and those magnificent signs largely disappeared from the drinking landscape. You can still find a few mid-century monuments to cocktail culture lurking about, and there are even preservation societies working to protect them, but nowadays the only bar neon you’re likely to see is a beer advert in a bar’s window. But give it time, the pendulum will swing back and soon enough flashing neon will be back in fashion. If you don’t believe me, check out the movie Bladerunner.

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Editor/Publisher of Modern Drunkard Magazine.