How different would 20th-century culture have been if the Rutles had not discovered tea?
From the perspective of fifty years beyond Dirk McQuickly's interview in which he extolled the virtues of tea, it's almost impossible to grasp just how controversial his remarks were. Today, tea is mundane, commonplace. I myself have had several cups of tea today. Yet, McQuickly's June 1967 interview about tea seems caused an uproar at the time. Tea, it seems, was something that people simply didn't talk about.
Today, I can go to the grocery story — Weis, Giant, Food Lion, Wegman's — and I'm confronted with dozens of different kinds of tea. There are people who like Earl Grey or Irish Breakfast. They can keep those. I'll take a nice herbal tea, and I'm especially fond of the Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Tea.
Would this have happened with McQuickly talking on ITV about tea? Would there have been such a variety of tea in stores? Who can say?
The controversy over the Rutles and tea, of course, died down. By the end of 1967 it was all forgotten. There were other controversial things for the Rutles to be criticized for, like Tragical History Tour. Yet, when we sit down to a cup of tea, hot or iced, we all owe McQuickly and the Rutles a thanks for normalizing the consumption of tea.