February of 1964 and the Beatles land in America. It's astounding to think of the number of product endorsement offers that would be proffered this year and beyond. It was rumored that the Fabs were approached by Coca Cola and other huge worldwide companies. Around the time The Beatles were signed by George Martin to the Parlophone label in 1962, Brian Epstein signed an endorsement deal with VOX for the band to exclusively use VOX gear as their backline but when it came to soft drinks and the like the offers were refused.
The Pepsi-co company makers of Pepsi-Cola did manage to get a very interesting promotional item in their hands during their initial trip over here on the 7th of February back in '64. Albert and David Maysles two brothers that created a film called "WHAT'S HAPPENING! THE BEATLES IN THE USA" where they followed the Beatles around for five days documenting everything from the fabs performing on the Ed Sullivan Show, the train ride to Washington DC, the concert and then down to the sunny clime of Miami Beach for more fun with Ed.
In the film The Beatles are seen holding miniature Pepsi Vending Machine Transistor Radios and listening to their favorite stations in New York taking in some of sounds on 1010 WINS and WMCA. So being a card carrying Beatle freak and collecting all things Kitschy and nostalgic I had to spring into action. What's got more Fab Kitsch than one of these unique little promotional radios. So I dug around where one normally digs for odd stuff like this and Crikey! I finally found one. Cracked and faded and not even in working condition but at least it was a start until good fortune struck me right on top of my ill fitted Beatle wig and I found another one. This time it was in the original box (with the original shipping box), the original batteries from 1963, the paperwork, the leather carrying case, the ear piece and a silica pack just incase 50 years of moisture would re-appear!
As far as the history and the tech aspect of the radio goes, it was a Japanese Transistor AM imported for Pepisco and marketed by Industrial Contacts, Park Ave, NY. It's a superhet portable made by the Tokyo Electric Industry Company for Pepsi-Cola in New York City. It measures 31/8" x 19/16" x 611/16" tall (80 x 40 x 70 mm) and is molded in red, white and blue. It comes with a red leather carrier. On some examples, the outside of the blue (front) section has faded over the years to greenish blue. The inside is usually the original blue. A screw secures the red back cover, but even with that screw undone, molded-plastic still holds it on. It's a tight fit, and you have to pry the cover off. Most of the examples that have survived either have cracks or pieces missing in the corners because of this problem. The damage occurs when the back is taken off to replace the batteries. Be careful. On the front under a clear plastic bubble are the words "Say Pepsi Please." The drinks offered are Patio, Teem and Pepsi.
The radio is AM only and it runs on four AA batteries which were called penlight back in the day. It's actually a pretty good performer and pulls in a lot of stations at night. An earphone with a leather carrying pouch was supplied. These radios came in relatively nice boxes. On the sides are the following words. Distortion Free Tuning- Amazing Range- Nine Transistor Circuit for power and range - Lightweight- Compact- Pocketable-Outstanding Selectivity -Perfect. So that's the story of the famous Beatles Radio. Gear! Now you're in the Pepsi Generation! Come Alive!