It is not easy to be positive about the spread of Covid-19 (the latest Coronavirus) around the world, which as I write has now reached at least 164 countries with a death toll of around 8,000 people. However, until the start of 2020, “Corona” meant rather different things to people. I was particularly struck by this while travelling in Pakistan in January and February of this year. So, I posted a tweet earlier today to explore what people had associated with the word in the past. This is the result (to be updated should any further suggestions be made!).
Mexico (and Puerto Rico)
In Mexico and indeed in many other countries, Corona was above all else associated with beer! Produced by Cerveceria Modelo, Corona is a pale lager and one of the five top-selling beers across the world. In 2013 the Grupo Modelo merged with Anheuser-Busch InBev in a transaction valued at US$ 20.1 billion. Interestingly, one of the three main breweries in Puerto Rico in the 1930s was called Cerveceria Corona, and it later sold its rights to Cervecería Modelo de México, which then launched Cerveza Corona as Modelo’s Corona Extra.
In Pakistan, Corona was known above all else as a paint. It is made by Dawn Coating Industry, which was founded in 1970, and has the ambition of becoming the largest national decorative paint company in the country. Its advertisments can be seen painted on buildings across Pakistan, but also on hoardings celebrating national holidays.
In Spain, Corona, or Coronas, was primarily associated with various wines. It is perhaps best known in its incarnation in the well-known Familia Torres wine Coronas, which was trademarked as long ago as 1907 by Juan Torres Casals, and is one of the oldest trademarks in the Spanish wine industry. Today, Torres’ Coronas wine is made mainly from Tempranillo with a small amount of additional Cabernet Sauvignon. However, Corona in Spanish merely means “crown”, and so the word has also been used for other wines, as in the Corona de Aragón wines, most notably made from Garnacha grapes (produced by Grandes Vinos).
In complete contrast, Egyptians thought that Corona was a type of chocolate biscuit (thanks so much to Leila Hassan for sharing this). Corona was established in Ismailia in 1919 by Tommy Christo (the son of a Greek businessman), as the first confectionery and chocolate company in the Egyptian market. Corona was nationalised in 1963, and then sold to the Sami Saad Group in 2000. For some, the association with “Bimbo” reminds them of a roadside café on Route E6 in Mo i Rana in Norway of the same name (thanks Ragnvald Larsen), which provides a neat introduction to that country…
To be fair, very few people made the above connection. However, the café takes its name from the baby elephant in the Circus Boy series (1956-58) and has persisted since the café first opened in 1967. Moreover, the Norwegian krone is pronounced in a similar way to the word corona, and as Tono Armas has pointed out in Spanish it is even called “Corona noruega“.
The Corona Corporation in Japan traces its origins back to the founding of kerosene cooking stiove factory in Sanjo, Niigata Pref., by Tetsuei Uchida in 1937. In the late 1970s it entered the air conditioning market, and has subsequently diversified into a range of fan heaters as well as nano-mist saunas and geothermal hybrid hot water systems (Thanks to Yutaka Sato for sharing this).
In Poland “Corona” brings to mind the symbolic significance of the Polish Crown (in Polish: Korona Królestwa Polskiego; in Latin: Corona Regni Poloniae). This is the term used for the historical territories of the Kingdom of Poland wihtin the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the late medieval period. However, it is also linked to the Homagial Crown of Poland (in Latin: Corona Homagialis), which was part of the Polish Crown Jewels, first mentioned in the 15th century, and possibly referring to the Coronation Crown of Władisław II (Thanks to Jagoda Khatri for sharing this)
I am never sure whether California should be seen as distinct from the USA, but for those who live there Corona is a town of about 150,000 people in Riverside County. It was originally called South Riverside, and was founded during California’s citrus boom in the 1880s. It was once called “The Lemon Capital of the World” (by USAns), and today is perhaps best known (at least by musicians) for being where the flagship factory, Custom Shop and headquarters of Fender guitars was established in 1985.
One of the most striking “Coronas” is the sandstone Corona Arch in a side canyon of the Colorado Rover west of Moab in Utah, which was once known as Little Rainbow Bridge. This had become a renowned site for rope swinging. A three mile hiking trail includes Corona Arch and nearby Bowtie Arch.
For astronomers, of course, a corona is the aura of plasma that surrounds stars including the sun. More simply, it can be considered as the outer layer of the Sun’s atmosphere that extends millions of miles into space, and generates the solar wind that travels across our solar system. It is difficult to see because it is hidden by the brightness of the sun, but is clearly visible during a total solar eclipse.
For geologists, a corona is a microscopic band of minerals, usually found in a radial arrangement around another mineral. More generally, it is a term applied to the outcome ofreactions at the rims of structures, where a change in metamorphic conditions can create porphyroblast growth or partial replacement of some minerals by others.
Do please share more thoughts on your memories of Corona before Covid-19.