started collecting lemonade labels back in 1975-76 And this collecto-mania
lasted for a decade. I crisscrossed the whole Soviet Union, which occupied 1/6
of the world territory at the time, in search of new labels... No, of course
not. I don't want to lie to you or pretend to be a VIC (very important
Most of my collection came from the
railroad yards. Trains carry people, people are usually thirsty and drink a lot
of liquids - lemonade the most available of them. They leave empty bottles
behind. Railway conductors collect them and sell to recyclers. They pile the
boxes full of empty bottles somewhere close to railway depots and stations. The
"removal" technique is simple - using an edge of a coin, I scrapped the paper
label from a bottle. It jams the paper, but doesn't break it. The razor blade
would do the job better, but who carries blades in the pocket every day ?
The second best source of labels were my summer
travels with parents to the blessed shores of Crimea peninsula. It took us
about 3 days to reach beaches of the Black sea (from Leningrad) and the road
(we were travelling by car) demands a lot of refueling, watering and pissing
stops. If I am not mistaken, my first label came from a small city of Slonim in
There is nothing special about it, but somehow it struck the cord... I
collected Soviet post stamps also, but you need to pay for the stamps and the
philately is a regulated hobby (catalogues, societies, etc.). Lemonade labels
were <and still is> new, wild and unexplored territory. "Lemonade" is
just a Russian common word for a soft-drink or soda.
parts/inscriptions of the Soviet/Russian label are:
"Anatomy" of the
||Usually a soft drink was called "Lemonade" or "Drink" or
"Bubbled water" followed by the original name "Zubrenok" in this case
(Zubr is Russian Bizon and zubrenok is a bizon's calf)
||Usually the bottling plant is a manufacturer.
And the logo shown is of the bottling plant itself. That bottling plant belongs
to the regional association of farmers' cooperatives.
(without a bottle):
||Standard price for half liter bottle of lemonade was about
10 kopecks (1 kopeck is 1/100 of a rouble). The bottle costed 12 kopecks more.
The bottle price was raised to 20 kopecks in the beginning of 80s.
||Half liter was the most popular and the only size
available. Later (beginning of 80s) 0,33 liter bottles were introduced.
||Everything was controlled by state standards.
That was one of the benefits of the state controlled economical system. If it
is sub-standard - "no go".
||Date was either stamped on a label or there was a cut
corresponding to the date printed on a label. This label was stamped at this
bottling plant, another plant would mark it by cutting.
||7 days (after being bottled) was a normal expiration time.
No preservatives were added. The taste and "environmental" quality were
||Lemonade bottling plants were everywhere, in every city
over 5,000 people. In Gatchina (one of Leningrad suburbs), where I lived with
my parents, it was located in a small building close to my father's work. Once,
I found a bunch of old labels in a nearby's building basement...
||Printing plants were centralized. There were two plants in
Leningrad which were printing labels for 1/4 of the whole country.
Unfortunately, the days of the great lemonades are coming to an end. The
"moloh" of the bottling industries conquered Russia with their 2 liter plastic
bottles, conservants and preservatives which give years of "shelf life" to a
carbonated water sweetened with a corn sirup, colored with a E737 and parfumed
with a drop of concentrated substance. But the price is right ! Rule coca-cola
conquerer was Pepsi-Cola . Thanks to a barter deal - pepsi-cola powder in
exchange for Stolychnaya vodka. There was a plenty of Pepsi concentrate and
many bottling plants were bottling Pepsi in the Soviet Union since 1980)
Here is only a half of my collection. The second half consists of
rectangular shaped labels. I will add them later, as the time permits. Use the
thumbnails on the left to navigate through the collection. Every label leads to
a page containing from 12 to 15 different labels, click on thumbnails to open
an enlarged (4x) image.
me a note if you have any questions
Page 2 !