There it goes!

Thanks to Brian in STL for this puzzling case of “either you know it or you don’t” from Heart of the City. Brian and your editors all were in the don’t-know bucket, but the bit was illuminated by comments in the GoComics site.

Please refrain from posting spoiler answers before, shall we say noon? Though you can get your licks in by just saying you got it.


  1. Presumably not the answer, but is it weird for girls (I assume that these are girls in school uniforms) to be in the same high school, both wearing school uniforms, but DIFFERENT uniforms?

  2. Does anyone know for sure whether Steenz does her own coloration? This could be just a syndicate dweeb trying to make the dresses look more interesting.

  3. Wow, this is what Heart of the City looks like now??

    Geez, just let it be it’s own thing, how sad that the only way we can get new comics is by inhabiting the husk of an old existing one…

  4. Yes, there was quite a bit of fuss when the new writer/artist took over. The former one was very supportive of the change and urged unruly fans to just be nice. But indeed it was a much more thorough change of appearance than is usual. Even the Olivia Jaimes Nancy wasn’t that different in look.

  5. I haven’t read HOTC since a little after the artist hand-off. Is this part of a fantasy sequence of some sort? From the girl’s uniforms and the Japanese characters on the vending machine, it appears to be taking place in a Japanese school.

  6. Spoiler Alert

    “Solution” post on the way!

    Any of you “I got it” posters should feel free to put in your answers too now.

  7. Spoiler

    The answer (more to “what’s even going on here?” than to “what’s the joke?”) can be pieced together from the reader comments at GoComics
    and in particular the link to
    provided by fretlessman71 .

    What they’ve got there is a bottle of Ramune, a Japanese carbonated drink. It is bottled with a glass marble stuck at the bottle’s neck, kept there by the gas pressure of the CO2 coming from the carbonated beverage. The marble acts as a stopper, preventing spills — but also preventing normal pouring or sipping, until it is released. It gets released by applying air pressure from the other side, the top opening, using a sort of plunger included as part of the packaging.

    In the cartoon, one girl has had trouble with it, but the other girl shows her how it’s done. In the 3rd and 4th panels you can sort of see that the marble has dropped down into the main chamber, freeing the obstruction.

  8. Ok… but what’s the joke?

    Re: the different-colored uniforms: something like a Gryffindor vs Slytherin?

  9. They’re dressed for cosplay at a comic convention. They are dressed as characters from “Cadet Luna.”

  10. I’ve got a bottle in my beer fridge right now!

    The real challenge is to try and free the marble (without breaking the glass). I’ve managed it once.

  11. I read the description of how to open a bottle of that stuff. Not only was it hopelessly and unnecessarily complicated, it results in discarding three or four separate pieces of plastic garbage. I can understand that the manufacturer doesn’t want to offend its dearest fans by abandoning a time-honored tradition, but that glass ball seal is wasteful and idiotic. It would be high time to switch to the same metal cap used for virtually all other carbonated beverages sold in bottles.

  12. I’m very sure I saw those weird bottles with the glass ball in the grocery store. Whatever they are, they must have been test-marketed in the Boston area for a short time.

  13. As noted, they are in cosplay outfits at a convention. “Cadet Luna” is a non-trademark-violating version of “Sailor Moon”.

  14. @ larK – As unlikely as it may seem, the Flensburger ceramic and wire-loop seals are reusable: the bottles have a normal deposit fee, and get returned to the factory for refilling.

  15. That’s a modern version of the Codd-neck bottle, patented in 1872, prior to ceramic/wire flip tops, or crown caps, which replaced the overly complicated Codd-neck, except for a couple beverages. The original had no special opening tools, the user just had to press hard, or use some sort of poking tool of their own devising. That, and the fact that the bottles have to be filled upside down to get the marble in position made them lose out to the simpler crown caps. Vintage bottles now command a premium price for collectors, as most originals were broken by children to get the marble out.

    I like the various ceramic flip tops (Grolsch being the one I have the most of) for homebrewing, because they’re more secure than crown caps, and don’t require special tools to seal. You can get replacement rubber gaskets from most brew stores.

  16. When I did homebrewing I too liked to use Grolsch bottles. One bar I knew used to let me collect the used Grolsch bottles there.

    As for the bottled with a glass marble stuck at the neck, it seems to me that it would be bad for business if few people can get the thing open.

  17. @Kilby – the reason they won’t switch to the normal bottle is because the only reason you buy it is to open it. The soda itself is … exactly like everything else. There is no reason to have one other than the fun of opening it.

  18. As unlikely as it may seem, the Flensburger ceramic and wire-loop seals are reusable

    Yeah, I know — I bought a case about 15 years ago for an “Oktoberfest” party, and have been using the bottles ever since to brew soda in.

  19. @ Stan – It’s not a joke, it’s building a relationship. Steenz took over Tatulli’s “gag-a-day” strip, and has decided to increase the “meaningful” soap-opera elements:

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