When I first saw a photograph of a crucifixion scene made entirely out of boxes of Mr. Pibb soda on Twitter I thought to myself, "oh boy, just when you think brands cannot get any dumber, they recreate Jesus' death scene." But the more I studied the photo the more insane I felt. Take a look:
Yes, that's definitely three crosses, one of which is draped in a gauzy purple scarf, you might first say. But look closer. Isn't it strange how the horizontal beams of the crosses seem to be holding themselves up? That's when I knew something was weird here, beyond the usual painful attempt of a brand to create positive sentiment through some ill-conceived display. Now, believers might say it was the grace of God that was keeping those horizontal beams in place, but I needed some cold hard facts. I guess that's why I'm a journalist.
Now, onto the research. I figured that the horizontal boxes of Mr. Pibb had two ways of staying up: they either would need to be secured to one another somehow (Glued? Taped? Pierced through the middle by a metal rod?), or invisibly suspended from the ceiling (fishing wire). For either of those situations, I would imagine that the boxes would need to be emptied of their product, thus rendering the product un-sellable. It seems like a weird choice to lose money on product in the name of a display meant to sell product, but I didn't want to rule this out, as brands are impossible to understand most of the time.
Lest I become a hater who says that it is photoshopped, I continued my research. The story was covered by several small Christian and right-wing news sources, including LongRoom.com and GraceCentered.com, both citing a specific Fred's store (a discount grocery chain) in Murfreesboro, TN. But were these flimsy stories enough corroboration that the store indeed exists? Upon further investigation, I found that someone had posted the same image on Facebook, where it has been liked 8.9K times. It was there that I found another skeptic:
Truly, how tf are they doing that? And what is this shelf Terri speaks of? What seemed obvious to others had me shaking my head in disbelief. Then, another commenter weighed in: "Empty cartons taped together. My hubby works for Coke and has built many displays." Could it be that one of my initial hypotheses proved true? Would this Fred's store decide to destroy product for the sake of building a cross? Perhaps this remark would make some feel as though the case was closed, but I was still unconvinced. I knew what I had to do: I had to call Fred's and figure out if the display was real or not.
When I got the associate on the phone I described the Mr. Pibb crucifixion scene and asked her if they had such a thing in their store. "No. We actually don't sell Pibb here," she told me, not knowing she had just helped solve a mystery that had nearly caused my unhinging. Well, call me a hater all you want, but that shit is photoshopped af.