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Moss column: Every morning is Sept. 11

Inevitably, people will say that we're in danger of forgetting Sept. 11.

I won't.
No, I was not there. I did not lose someone close to me. I did not cry.
I was in my office in the newsroom at the Times-News talking with advertising director Mike Sternberg. An ad rep walked by and made a remark about big news happening. I remember taking his remark as some kind of crack about the editor and advertising director fraternizing, because that didn't happen that often.
Then I turned on the TV.
The rest of that day is a blur.
I know we put out a great issue. "TERROR HITS HOME," the headline said. And I remember a few odd rabbit trails. Localizing a huge national story can be forced at times, interesting at others. A month after 9/11, we had reporters and photographers racing out to an anthrax scare at Laurel Park shopping center, of all places.
In fact, sitting here right now, 12 years later, I'm doubting my memory. Nope, I'm right. Here it is, thanks to Google, in a news brief from WHKP.
Oct. 12, 2001: "Businesses in the Laurel Park Village Shopping Center were evacuated around 4 p.m. yesterday when a mailman discovered an unknown white substance that caused an anthrax scare. Police said there is no health risk to the community, and that there was no need to panic. The postman and two other persons were rushed to the hospital. One of the three was Kathy Eubanks, who returned home last night. She told the Times-News that a Pardee Hospital official said preliminary testing showed that the substance might have been salt."
Frankly I don't care if I do forget the anthrax scare at Laurel Park Village Shopping Center. I won't forget Sept. 11. I remember a spirit of American unity and purpose, a non-partisan oneness that was militaristic and compassionate at the same time. It was the good kind of flag waving.

But that's not why I think of Sept. 11 every day.
I think of Sept. 11 every day because of Chock full o' Nuts. That's my coffee can. It's not always my coffee. I buy many different brands of coffee — what's on sale, store brands, for old times sake Eight O'Clock coffee beans that you grind at the store, like I did for customers when I was a 15-year-old bag boy at the A&P at Eastgate Shopping Center in Chapel Hill.
The coffee inside the can changes. What's outside the can stays the same.
It's the New York City skyline, circa Sept. 10, 2001.
There they are.
The Twin Towers.
It's an old-fashioned looking label, like it could have been designed in the 1930s. In a yellow sky is the phrase "The Heavenly Coffee," with musical notes on either side of the phrase. On my coffee can there are actually two sets of Twin Towers because the skyline repeats as the paper label wraps around. There are other recognizable landmarks — the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Tower, the one with the 45-degree angle roofline. You can't get one like my can now.
The New York Times reported on the label change in 2004. I had not realized the change came that long after 9/11.
When it added a new flavor, the company looked at redesigning the label.
"The existing packaging was a bit antiquated," Angie Hancock, a brand manager for Chock full o' Nuts, told the Times. "It definitely resonated with an older consumer but was not doing enough to attract younger consumers." And, she added, "there was the issue with the twin towers."
Market researchers who polled customers found the World Trade Center was "a very polarizing issue," Hancock said. "It was split 50-50 between people wanting to see it there, and then people wanting to not see it there. It would either remind them of what it looked like, a sense of nostalgia, or it would be a reminder of a tragedy. We decided it was too divisive."
I can see why Chock full o' Nuts, a New York company, would make the decision. If I were a marketing executive and the daughter of a Sept. 11 victim told me the label filled her with sadness, I'd probably change it, too.
But I have my label and I will not let it go. Just to be on the safe side, once every few months I hold up my coffee can and implore: "Please don't throw away my Chock full o' Nuts can."
My can is getting old now. A tiny piece of the shiny paper is flaking off a half inch south of the south tower. Maybe I should put my can away for safekeeping.
But I won't do it.
I look at it every day.
I don't want to forget.



Bill Moss, editor of the Hendersonville Lightning, can be reached at