I'm a Frito-Lay/Pepsico brat. From the time I was fourteen until 2003, my dad worked at Frito-Lay. He brought home cases of chips every Wednesday, the day the employees were allowed to buy off the truck, and when I was in college, Dad would ask me every Sunday if my roommates and I wanted anything special.
We were among the first to try Funyuns and Wavy Lays.
Remember the Pepsi Challenge? For the record, I don't like carbonated beverages. It takes me about 90 minutes to drink a single can of Pepsi. But Coke isn't sweet enough; I once began a Cherry Coke at 8am and by 4pm still hadn't finished it.
What does this have to do with anything, you ask? I incorporate Frito-Lay/Pepsico products into my stories. Of course, once in a while a character will tell me they like Sprite instead of Sierra Mist, or Seven-Up. That's fine. I'll compensate by having them drive a Chevy. Or hating seafood.
I also like to add my favorite music into my stories. Anyone remember 'We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off' (1986) or Eddie Murphy's 'Party All The Time'? Who remembers that Don Johnson and Patrick Swayze both had hit singles; Don with "Heartbeat' in 1987 and Patrick with 'She's Like The Wind' in 1988?
If I venture into a setting other than someplace where I've been, I'll invent a restaurant. But if I've actually been to the city/state/vacation place, you can be sure of recognizing either landmarks or restaurants.
I'm not one for fashion or label-dropping. The occassional clothing line will sneak in, such as Lee Jeans or Nike/Reebox tennis shoes, but mostly the cologne scents will be named. I loved Aviance Night Musk. White Shoulders. Soft Musk (Avon). Georgio. Red. Polo. Obsession For Men. Halston (men and women's).
It's safer to be generic and vague about what a character is wearing, drinking, watching, etc. But sometimes the label throws a definite picture into the mind when you're reading. Lisa Logan does an excellend job of this in Grand Seduction.
Fortunately, my publisher doesn't need me to track down the trade marks of any labels I've thrown into my stories. But then again, if I stick with the ones I know, then there's no problem later, right?