It’s only late September, but it was already like Christmas at Costco, in a suburb of New Jersey. Shimmering artificial trees and pre-packaged gifts include the Costco Advent Bear Calendar for 2020. The $60 package includes two dozen 16.9-ounce cans of German beer, one for every day from December to Christmas. The station with the Advil’s large screen is therefore nearby.
Theme Advent calendars have become a big business, especially for beverage producers. Supermarkets, large cash registers, wine shops and other outlets for wine, beer, gin and even seltzer. Settings that keep track of these calendars find that pre-orders arrive sooner and stocks quickly disappear.
We have been selling Advent calendars for years, but the popularity of our collection has increased enormously with the launch of our first Advent calendar in 2018, said Joan Kavanaugh, Vice President of National Purchasing for Aldi in the United States. The calendars were sold out a few hours after the sale.
Aldy Adventures Calendar on Beer and Wine Request / Photo courtesy of Aldy
This year the food chain plans to produce 20 different Advent calendars filled with books, candles, cheese and animal delicacies. Aldi’s Advent calendar 2020 contains 24 11.2-inch bottles from around the world. There’s also a 12-day box of Irish Cream Liqueur. The wine box is sold for $70 and contains 24 bottles of 187 ml each.
For the first time, all 24 bottles of Aldi wine brands are available all year round. That way, if you find one you like, you can make a stock of it any time of the year, Mr. Cavanaugh says. In addition, we have selected 13 varieties that can only be found in the calendar, giving customers the opportunity to taste new wines.
The Aldy Advent wine calendar is not the only one with a cult. Kostko has two separate promotional calendars for the year 2020. Each sale costs about 100 dollars and includes 24 375 ml bottles from national and international manufacturers.
There are online forums, websites and Facebook groups dedicated to Aldy’s and other thematic promotional calendars. Some give an overview of the stock at specific locations in the stores. Others go further in tasting the bottles. A Costco beer case provides an application where you can talk about beer with other calendar owners. And this year many Zoom Happy Clock will be placed with friends and strangers of the band to try it out together.
Every wine or beer in the package is tasted by our regional customers before they decide what to include in their promotional calendar, and can easily be changed each year, said Chad Falcon, Assistant Vice President of Liquor, Costco Wholesale. Thanks to the success of this point, we are already discussing the plans for next year and reaching out to each other during rehearsals.
In Christianity, Advent is the liturgical time before Christmas. The dark times of contemplation, the days of Advent, were historically observed by marking the wall or lighting candles. Advent calendars printed and published in early 1900. Some contain biblical verses after each date, while others contain delicacies such as chocolate.
Modern Advent calendars with alcohol are usually made of sturdy cardboard with perforated newspapers that can fall to open the bottle inside. For those who want to do their own iterations, there are online classes.
Jeff’s Spirits on Main, a small shop in West Bend, Wisconsin, makes its own Advent boxes. In the stiff bolt holder there is a row of white claws filled with real and bad glowing bolts. Similarly, the Craft Beer Cellar store in Belmont, Massachusetts, offered Advent calendars filled with beer and cider. Both were sold quickly.
Brewery Alameda, CA Almanacaas brewery / Photo by Renée Ricciardi
Breweries also produce packaging inspired by advertising. The California Bear Almanac offers two different holiday boxes, one for the 12 days of Christmas and one for the 8 nights of Hanukkah. Customers can choose based on their taste preferences, including sour beer or hops.
The Illinois Craftsmen’s Guild worked with 24 state breweries to create a seasonal box.
What could be more fun and adventurous every day than surprising people with cheese, wine and beer during a busy season, says Brandon Jones, a brewer at Yazoo Brewery in Tennessee. That autumn he spent a few weeks looking for shops, including Aldy and Kroger, and storing all kinds of calendars he had been working on for several years.
The Advent season ends on 24 December, but the thematic calendars have a more secular approach to this season. Aldy also offers a kit for the week between Christmas and New Year. It comprises seven bottles of sparkling wine of 187 ml, including Moscato, Cava and Sektrose.
Shopkeepers warn you that this is not an expected merchandise.
We were a bit nervous when we ordered [promotional calendars] for this season, which we stopped commissioning, but then Covid came along, bars and restaurants closed or cut back, and alcohol sales in Costco went up sharply, Sokol said. Unfortunately we are selling much faster than expected this year.