Back in December of 2012, Twitter user “twinzzykins” dispatched what was likely the very first mention of a soon-to-be trending hashtag.
“yesss! ginger sleaze wasted. uh oh. look at me!! making new shit up,” said twinzzykins, crowning the tweet with a nearly 20-character-strong list of drinks-related emoji (Martini glasses, beer mugs, anonymous tropical drinks and the like) before proceeding to call out a category conspicuously absent from the mobile library.
“#whiskeyemoji no?” twinzzykins pondered. Admittedly, the whiskey hashtag didn’t make waves right away; it’d take time—and an industry backer—to get the movement off the ground.
Less than two years later, Scotch whisky producer Ballantine’s jumped at the opportunity to call out the lack of representation within the canon. “🍸🍹🍷 🍺 but there’s no #WhiskyEmoji. What’s up with that?” tweeted the brand in July 2014, firing off a series of more than a dozen related tweets in the space of a week.
As part of a marketing campaign built around the hashtag (spelled “whisky” to better suit the product) Ballantine’s released not only a variety of shareable graphics, but a website and video to accompany an official submission in support of a whiskey emoji. Addressed to the Unicode Consortium, the organization that approves and manages the entire emoji catalogue, it was the first step towards the now-standard “Tumbler Glass,” which debuted late last year.
Ballantine’s is not alone. In fact, they’re just one of a number of large-name brands looking to grab a piece of the proverbial emoji pie.The much-anticipated taco character, released in 2015, was promoted via social channels and a change.org petition as part of a campaign launched by fast food giant Taco Bell. The avocado emoji? Thank the California Avocado Commission’s “Avocado Emoji for All!” crusade. Just one year ago, for St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness got in on the game, too, releasing a proposal to Unicode in support of a #stoutmoji designed to satisfy the keyboarding needs of dark beer lovers.
But according to Unicode, a petition, no matter how well-circulated, can’t guarantee approval, and guidelines for emoji proposal and submission are surprisingly strict. Not only must each new emoji be easily identifiable at a glance, it should have a high expected frequency of use. This is likely why, despite a short-lived petition suggesting otherwise, an emoji depicting an Australian bag-in-box wine—aka “goon sack”—failed to gain traction.
Perhaps the greatest success story of late, save for that of the whiskey tumbler, was the debut of the “Bottle With Popping Cork” emoji, released in 2015. But, unlike #whiskyemoji, #champagneemoji seems to have arrived organically, without an industry sponsor.
“Could be champagne [sic], prosecco, cidre, crémant, etc.,” note the authors in an official memo to Unicode, dated October 2014, detailing popular requests. (Indeed, the ability of an emoji to satisfy multiple usages again suggests a “high expected frequency of use” and is considered an advantage in the selection process.) Coincidentally, the first instance of the #champagneemoji hashtag on Twitter likewise had absolutely nothing to do with Champagne; rather, it accompanied a May 2013 tweet that declared, “I adore that Andre [sic] is resealable.”
As for the emoji scheduled to be released this year, there won’t be much by way of drinks, save a soda cup equipped with a straw. But that’s not for lack of trying. Though calls for a white wine emoji have largely failed to grip petitioners, there is a sizable group rallying in support of a hyper-regional character: the porron, a spouted glass wine jug traditional in parts of Spain.
Put into motion by Barcelona-based cultural organization Blaus de Granollers, the #porróemoji petition has amassed more than 2,500 signatures for its official design and inspired at least one column in opposition to what might be, hilariously, a borderline controversial issue.
“Porró evolved from a simple functional meaning into a social phenomenon,” explains the petition, in what can be read as an ironically poignant assertion, drawing parallels to emoji themselves; since their debut in the late 1990s, these mobile characters have become the fastest-growing language in the history of the world.
Whether #porróemoji will catch on remains to be seen, but els Blaus remain confident in their efforts: “It is not possible that an ice cream biscuit, a vintage jar and a glass with an unknown drink have their own emoticons and porró has not,” they explain.
Here’s to hoping.