Inspired by the retro-fabulous Mad Men television series on HBO to take a fresh look at nostalgia, Adam Gopnik, writing in a recent New Yorker commentary (The Forty-Year Itch), offers this cultural observation: “It seems time to pronounce a rule about American popular culture: the Golden Forty-Year Rule. The prime site of nostalgia is always whatever happened, or is thought to have happened, in the decade between forty and fifty years past. (And the particular force of nostalgia, one should bear in mind, is not simply that it is a good setting for a story but that it is a good setting for you.)”
Gopnik provides many examples to back up his claim, and ties it to the notion that, since most cultural gatekeepers are in their 40s, individual people also follow this same forty-year itch, and exhibit nostalgic longing for the period just before their own early-childhood memories kicked-in: “Though pop culture is most often performed by the young, the directors and programmers and gatekeepers—the suits who control and create its conditions, who make the calls and choose the players—are, and always have been, largely forty-somethings, and the four-decade interval brings us to a period just before the forty-something was born. Forty years past is the potently fascinating time just as we arrived, when our parents were youthful and in love, the Edenic period preceding the fallen state recorded in our actual memories.” For example, if you were born in 1973, you might have great nostalgic longing for the early-to-mid 1970s.
Using Gopnik’s “Golden Forty-Year Rule” as an excuse to take a nostalgic joyride through company names of the past, we decided to take a look at some of the names of companies that were born in the past couple years and compare them to companies born forty years earlier (1970-71) and forty years before that (1930-31). Are there any observable patterns here? Are the current crop of newly minted companies influenced, perhaps subconsciously or culturally, by the Class of 1970-71, and were they in turn influenced by their precursors in 1930-31, in the heart of the Great Depression? And were those from 1930-31 influenced by the companies born in 1890-91? We’ll leave that to the reader to decide.
Happy tripping down memory lane.
|Companies Founded 1930-31||Companies Founded 1970-71||Companies Founded 2010-11|