RICHMOND, VA – The Bluebird Tavern has a colorful history. It was a popular meeting place during the Revolutionary War, and the official sponsor of local children’s show “Chuckles the Clown and his Hoppy Friends,” from 1948 to 1955. But it is best known for a contest started by the bar’s founder, John Sutcliffe. In 1770 he offered a whopping 100 pounds and a brood sow to anyone who found “The Answer to All of Life’s Problems” in the bottom of a beer bottle. 246 years later, the contest is still going strong.
“My ancestor was a visionary,” said current owner Robert Sutcliffe. “Everybody knows that beer has the power to make people smarter and more attractive, but John was the first to realize that if ‘The Answer’ was to be found anywhere in the world, beer would definitely be involved.”
Though “The Answer” has yet to be found many have come close, including legendary orator Patrick Henry. “He’d been drinking at the bar all night when he suddenly cried out ‘The peanuts are free! God bless the peanuts!’” said Sutcliffe. “That was the basis for his ‘Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death’ speech. True story.”
Today Bluebird’s customers search for “The Answer” as enthusiastically as they did in John Sutcliffe’s day. “I met my wife had my kids all thanks to beer, so I think I have a good shot at finding it,” said Jim Thompson, a 40-year-old electrician who’s been a regular since his 21st birthday. “But right now I’d settle for how to get my wife and kids back.”
Critics have accused the contest of being nothing but a marketing gimmick, a charge Sutcliffe vehemently denies. “The fact that we are offering a prize equivalent to the one offered in 1770 is proof enough,” he said. That prize is currently valued at one jillion dollars and a unicorn.
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