As for the mysterious Vortex Bottle? I'm not yet totally certain of its purpose. (Miller Lite offers no clues I could find on its Web site, and my e-mailed inquiries to MillerCoors received no response.) Some have theorized that the goal is to agitate the beer when it's poured into a glass, releasing flavor and bouquet. But who pours Miller Lite into a glass, or cares about its bouquet? Don't we just suck it straight out of the bottle and then order another? The rival theory, more plausible to me, is that the rifled grooves inside the bottle's neck allow a more rapid flow of liquid—the way throwing a spiral makes a football go faster—making it possible to chug way more beer in way less time.
The Miller Lite ad doesn't explicitly mention this benefit (I have to imagine there'd be some dicey liability issues involved in advertising a way to get drunk quicker), but if the bottle truly serves this purpose, word will soon spread. The inevitable next step? Cans with pre-scored holes for easier shotgunning. Also, bottles with built-in, telescoping funnels.
Grade: B- for Miller Lite, D- for Twix. When your product tastes exactly like your competitors', it makes a lot of sense to move the fight to a new battleground. Twix switched to emphasizing a product benefit no one needs or wants. Miller Lite switched to emphasizing revolutionary new advances in beer portability and chillability—just in time for summer!
Bonus anecdote of possible interest to those in search of a quicker drinking method: I once attempted to rig a two-story beer funnel using a very long piece of tubing. The first try was a fiasco. Aided by gravity, the beer accelerated to a fantastic speed and knocked the unfortunate fellow waiting at the bottom—lips wrapped around the tube—flat on his back amid an explosion of frothy foam and garbled moans. Later, we discovered the secret is to make a loop-de-loop at the halfway point of the tube, interrupting and slowing the beer's descent. You're welcome.
TODAY IN SLATE
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Smash and Grab
Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?