Saks

AVA: Aubrey here works at Saks.
AUBREY: Uh, used to work at Saks.

Saks Fifth Avenue is a luxury department store chain which originated in Washington DC in 1827, and is now headquartered in New York. The closest store to Hartford is in Greenwich, Connecticut, about 90 minutes drive away [pictured].

Aubrey is quick to correct the assumption that she is still working after being married for a month, which would imply her husband couldn’t support her financially. Unlike Lorelai, the Booster Club mothers don’t have to work, underlining that it is much more of a sacrifice for Lorelai to participate.

Poppin’ Fresh

[they walk out onto the patio, where a chef is cooking on the grill]
RORY: Hey, cool!
LORELAI: What’s up, Poppin’ Fresh?

Poppin’ Fresh, otherwise known as the Pillsbury Doughboy, is an advertising mascot for the Pillsbury Company’s refrigerated dough product line, created in 1965. His slogan is, “Say hello to poppin’ fresh dough!”. He’s a boy made of dough who wears a chef’s hat, hence Lorelai’s greeting to the chef.

Trident

LIBBY: You know, they say four out of five debs marry their escorts.
RORY: Kind of like the dentists with Trident.

Trident is a brand of sugar-free chewing gum. For many years it was advertised with the slogan, “Four out of five dentists surveyed recommend sugarless gum for their patients who chew gum.” This is believed to have been based on a survey of practising dentists in the early 1960s, the results of which were approximately 80% in favour of sugarless gum.

In real life, it’s not true that 80% of debutantes marry their escorts. That’s preposterous, especially as most debutantes are matched up with some random guy. I’m not sure whether it’s meant to show Libby is a gullible fool, or whether the show actually expects us to believe this nonsense.

Shakey’s

EMILY: Cotton tablecloths, folding chairs. It’s not supposed to be like this. In my day, people sat in real chairs … I wanted my granddaughter to be presented to society in a beautiful elegant ballroom, not a Shakey’s.

Shakey’s Pizza is a restaurant chain founded in 1954 which was extremely popular by the 1970s, but went into a decline during the 1990s. They are based in California, with restaurants on the west coast and overseas, and I find it hard to believe the genteel Emily has even heard of Shakey’s, let alone bandies its name about so casually.

Cirque de Soleil

LIBBY: The two minutes you are standing on those stairs tonight will determine the social status for the rest of your life.
RORY: Wow, what if you trip? I mean, not that you would. You wouldn’t. I might. Probably will, actually. Could be a real Cirque du Soleil kind of night.

Cirque de Soleil (“Circus of the Sun”) is a Montreal-based entertainment group, and the largest modern circus in the world. Founded in 1984 by former street-performers Guy Laliberté and Gilles Ste-Croix, it is known for its spectacular theme-based performances, and has won many awards.

Rory is presumably thinking of acrobats and tumblers when she talks about tripping on the stairs as a Cirque de Soleil moment. This is another of many circus references in the show.

Volvo Sedan

LORELAI: Oh yeah. A Volvo sedan, are you kidding?
CHRISTOPHER: This is a great car.
LORELAI: For driving to bingo.

CHRISTOPHER: I’ve got Alpine head units, two subs, and two twelves. In exchange, no passenger-side airbag.

Volvo is a Swedish brand of luxury cars founded in 1927; the name is Latin for “I roll”. It was founded upon the concept of safety, and their cars have long been marketed as safe and reliable; many of the Volvo’s safety innovations have now become standard or even compulsory. Lorelai sees it as an old person’s car, because of its staid and rather boring image.

I think Christopher’s car is a 2001 Volvo S80, an executive sedan. He describes the car’s sound system as Alpine brand head units, with two sub woofers, and two twelve-inch sub woofers (maybe he means two amplifiers and two twelve-inch sub woofers?), which means he had to give up passenger-side airbags, a major feature of the S80. So he’s bought a safe car, and made it less safe (for the person who’s not him), so he can enjoy music.

As Lorelai notes, Christopher has given up his cool motorcycle for a sensible car, but the old (selfish) Christopher still lives. Take warning!

(There is an immediate shot of the Massachusetts license plate, to remind us Christopher has moved to Boston. It begins with 169, which seems like a naughty joke, although it’s not a vanity plate, so not deliberate on Christopher’s part).

Little Debbie

LORELAI: Hey Little Debbie, your dad is definitely gonna be there.

Debutantes are often called debs for short. Lorelai turns this into Debbie in reference to Little Debbie, a brand of cookie and cake snacks that has a little girl on the logo.

It’s a product line of McKee Foods, and the company founders, O.D. and Ruth McKee named it after their granddaughter, Debbie, in 1960, even using her image to promote the products. Debbie McKee-Fowler is now the Executive Vice-President of McKee Foods.

Potlucks and Tupperware Parties

JESS: Potlucks and Tupperware parties aren’t really my thing.

A potluck is American English for a communal meal where everyone brings a dish of food to share. Commonly organised by churches and community groups, the food is rarely of gourmet quality (hence, you’re taking “pot luck” in what you’ll get to eat).

A Tupperware party is one organised to sell Tupperware, a line of plastic storage containers first developed by Earl Silas Tupper in 1946, and sold via multilevel marketing in the home. After being very popular in the 1970s, Tupperware suffered a slump in the mid-1990s, when it began to seem dated, so at this period was considered a rather middle-aged activity.

Quite rudely, Jess equates the lavish dinner Sookie carefully prepared to welcome him to Stars Hollow with community meals suitable for the dull and old-fashioned. This yet another meal prepared by Sookie which gets ruined, as Jess and Luke leave without eating, when the dinner was meant to be for them.