Hans had contacted a bottle collector named Bauer Sanders, a tycoon in the book publishing industry.
On the way to Phoenix, Hans contacted Bauer to confirm the time of their meeting. They arrived in Phoenix around noon, had a quick lunch, and made their way to Bauers villa located in the suburbs.
It was mid-July. The city really deserved the name "Phoenix," for it was as hot as the lair of the legendary fiery bird.
At 1:30 pm, they arrived at their destination. The villa was located in a luxury residential neighborhood next to a small lake surrounded by an abundance of tall trees with green foliage.
Hans made another phone call and soon they saw a white man who wore a pair of sunglasses waving to them in front of his villa.
Mr. Sanders shook hands with the three of them and laughed, "Im Bauer Sanders, welcome to my place. Please come in, Ive prepared some cold drinks."
Hans wiped the sweat from his face and said, "Mr. Sanders, although Phoenix is a very modern city, I would still recommend you moving to Flagstaff. It suits people with statuses such as yourself."
Bauer laughed, "I have to admit, Phoenixs summers are too warm. But I do not have the money to live in Flagstaff. All my money has been spent on my hobbies and related merchandise."
Li Du cracked a joke. "Before, I couldnt understand why people collect drink bottles. But now I understandresidents in Phoenix must love cold drinks a lot."
Mr. Sanders led them to the living room, where the trio could see a wide variety of beverage bottles displayed neatly on custom-made wooden shelves affixed to the walls.
Li Du glanced at the collection; he saw various Pepsi and Coca-Cola bottlesnot only that, there were also bottles from Sprite, Heineken, Danone, Nestle, Budweiser, Gatorade, Red Bull, and so much more.
Li noticed that the bottles displayed were all glass, none were plastic. Many people knew that soda tasted the best in glass bottles, followed by aluminum cans, and lastly, plastic.
Glass had the best retention rate for the fizzy carbon dioxide in the drinks. When stored in a glass bottle for six months, the original amount of carbon dioxide could still be at 98 percent.
Glass was also the most inert material to store soda in, as there were consumers who tasted a slightly more metallic flavor from aluminum cans and a plasticy taste from plastic bottles.
Under such circumstances, the glass bottle was naturally the preferred material for collecting.
There wasalso a row of neatly placed refrigerators in the living room. Bauer opened the fridge and asked, "What would you like to drink?"
Hans said, "Since we brought Coca-Cola bottles, well have some Coke."
"You made the right choice," Bauer said. "What flavor do you want?"
Coca-Cola had come up with many different flavors of Coke. The cherry flavor was the most popular in the United States. There was also the raspberry flavor, orange flavor, lemon flavor, and so on.
Hans let Li Du choose first but Li shrugged his shoulders and said, "Mr. Sanders, maybe you can help me choose one. I trust an experts choice."
Bauer had a bright smile on his face after hearing Lis compliment.
"I recommend you try the vanilla-flavored Cokeits very well-received in China."
Li Du had never paid attention to the different flavors of Coke. He would usually just take one and go, as Coke to him was simply a drink that could quench his thirst.
Hans asked, "Id like a more thrilling tastewould you recommend one for me as well?"
Bauer laughed, "If you like something thrilling, then you must choose the ginger-flavored Coke. This one is really popular in Japan."
Li Du admired the Japaneses taste after hearing what Bauer had said; ginger and Coke could really offer a thrilling taste, and ginger was considered a healthy food. But, isnt it better to drink it in winter? he thought.
Li Du felt that the Ginger Coke was a drink that was most suitable for winter. But what Bauer said was rightit was definitely the most stimulating flavor.
When it was Godzillas turn, Bauer did not wait for him to open his mouth and said, "I know what you want, friend. You definitely want the original Coke, right?"
"Thank you," said Godzilla with a shrug.
Li Du asked, "Theres actually a difference between the original and regular Coke?
Bauer replied, "Of course30 years ago, the government encouraged food manufacturers to use corn products. The Coca-Cola Company then replaced the cane sugar they used with high fructose corn syrup.
"However, the Coca-Cola factory in Mexico insisted on using cane sugar, as Mexico is rich with sugarcane, so using it meant lower costs for them.
"Although Coca-Cola had made numerous claims that there was no difference between the two ingredients, many die-hard fans could taste a difference and declared that the Mexican Coke is the real, most authentic Coke.
"Thus, Coke that uses cane sugar as its ingredient is called the original Coke."
Bauer explained as he handed Godzilla a large bottle of Coke. He took a small bottle for himself and deliberately spun the bottle to grab the attention of the three men.
Hans immediately understood what Bauer wantedto show off.
Hans asked, "What about this Coke?"
Bauer appeared to be pleased and cheerfully said, "Yes my friend, you have a sharp eye. This is seawater Coke that you can hardly findthere are only a few bottles in the United States."
"Seawater Coke? Coke made using seawater?" Li Du asked. "Is it salty?"
Bauer laughed and shook his head. "No. Its made using desalinated seawater, produced in Mal, capital of the Maldives. Its only sold locally."
Hans said in a tone with admiration, "Mr. Sanders, you know so much about Coca-Cola. I bet youve spent quite a sum of money on all these Coke products."
Bauer spread his hands and said, "Well, thats because I like them. Money is more common than happiness. If I spend money and I get to be happy in return, then that money spent is worth it."
Godzilla nodded his head as he concurred with what Mr. Sanders had said. He was happiest when he was eatingthe money spent on eating was worth it.
Following the topic, Hans opened up the box containing the glass bottles and said, "We would like you to take a look and see if these bottles could bring you some happiness."
Both Li Du and Hans had done their homework, and knew that these antique bottles were valuable. Collectors had paid anywhere from a few thousand to more than ten thousand dollars for them.
However, they were not so confident about the bottles they had, for Mr. Sanders seemed to have a really complete collection. They wouldnt have been surprised if Mr. Sanders told them he already had the ones both Hans and Li Du had brought over.
Their fears turned into reality. Bauer held the first generation Coke bottle, stared at it, and smiled. "Wow, this is good stuff. The first generation Coke bottle. Ive collected a few as well."
Li Du and Hans glanced at each other for a moment, both looked slightly disappointed. However, they still had to try, no matter what. Hans asked, "Okay, could these bottles still bring you joy?"
Bauer did not say a word, but took another green Coke bottle in his hand instead.
He lifted up the bottle and looked at it against the light. "Splendid! You have two Santa Claus Collectors bottlesnot bad!"