We begin by an image from the early 1900s that shows a baby apparently happily sucking on a bottle of Duesseldorf Beer. This was a product of the Indianapolis Brewing Company, originally founded by Peter Lieber and two partners, one of them his brother, about 1868. An ad slogan used by the company in the early 1900s claimed “for family use a speciality.” Whether this included tots as young as the one in the picture is open to conjecture, but images of infants and toddlers were commonly used by the brewery in its marketing. Indianapolis Brewing survived until approximately 1948.
The Buckeye Brewing Company of Toledo was another beer-maker that regularly made use of the “cute and cuddly” pictures of children in its advertising pre-prohibition, including the captivating illustrations by Ellen Clapsaddle [See my post on her, March 2012]. Many Buckeye kiddies appeared on advertising greeting cards for Christmas, Easter and other holidays. The one shown here of a child with a rabbit followed a familiar theme involving animals. The Buckeye brewery survived 127 years before closing in the early 1970s.
Some child-plus-animal images came with an edge to them. This ad from the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company of Cincinnati is a take-off of the verse, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” In this case Mary the lamb has followed her to school where though the window the schoolgirl sees her teacher swigging a glass of Moerlein’s beer before class. This brewery began production in 1853 in Cincinnati, Ohio, founded by German immigrant Christian Moerlein. When forced by Prohibition to close its doors in 1920, it was among the ten largest in America by volume. The brand was revived in 1981.
Sometimes the animals could be downright distressing to the children in brewery ads. Here a young lady seems to be menaced by a gaggle of geese that seem intent on pulling on her garments, an activity that clearly is disturbing her. This image was the handiwork of the Bartholomay Brewery of Rochester, New York. Founded in 1852 by Philip Bartholomay, the facility grew to be a large beer manufacturer, with production of ably 189,000 barrels by 1888. Although it operated successfully for almost seven decades, Bartholomay did not survive National Prohibition.
Another youngster with animal troubles was a lad dressed in a chef’s hat who is running with a delicious-looking confection on a plate trying to scramble away from some rapacious birds who also have their appetite whetted. This illustration appeared on a trade card issued by John W. Hirt who was dealer in beer and liquor in Utica, New York. The card particularly noted “Toledo Lager Beer,” as later Milwaukee Beer set the standard. Hirt would have been referring to Buckeye beer among the Toledo producers of lagers.
Another familiar theme for kids selling beer was to juxtapose them with flowers. One example came to the drinking public from Aurora Brewing of Aurora, Illinois. Here we have a comely young lass who appears to be smelling an orchid or perhaps a snapdragon. She graced the front of a greeting card issued by the brewery. Dates seem to differ on this outfit, but it appears that it was founded in 1890 and closed in 1920, a run of some 30 years. After Repeal in 1934 a brewery of the same name opened in Aurora but closed in 1939.
Maier & Zobelein Brewery of Los Angeles gave their little starlet Shirley Temple-like curls and seated her within a basket of roses as part of a holiday greeting to their customers. Let us hope the thorns had been removed. In 1882 two German immigrants named Joseph Maier and George Zobelein had purchased an existing brew house and renamed it for themselves. They made a light, pilsener-style lager that was becoming increasingly popular with the public during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
The next image is of a child, dressed in a sailor suit, of an undetermined gender, looking wistfully at a bunch of daisies. The card also carries a bit of verse: “Cool as an ice-berg and chemically clear, You never drank better than Lang’s Bottled Beer.” Gerhard Lang got control of this Buffalo brewery, founded in 1842, by marrying the daughter of the founder Philip Born after his death. Lang expanded production, building a huge and palatial brewery with a grand hall lined with marble. His would go down in history as the largest single brewing plant in Buffalo, with an annual production of nine million gallons annually.
In the Tannhauser Beer trade card, the flower, a dandelion, has gone to seed and the tots are blowing the seeds around — hopefully to someone else’s yard. Again we are in the realm of terminal cuteness. This beer was a major brand of Bergner & Engle, a large brewery located in Philadelphia. The firm touted its Grand Prize at the Philadelphia Exposition of 1876 and at the Paris Exposition of 1878 and gained a national customer base. Although Gustavus Bergner had some political clout, he was unable to hold back the tide of the “dry” forces that eventually closed Bergner & Engle.
A few brewers found it useful to show their merchandising children in scenes of distress or delinquency. Frederick A. Poth, another Philadelphia brewery owner, decorated a trade card with four boys and one girl, apparently siblings, who have eaten hot mustard and now regret it. Poth had learn beer-making from the bottom up, shoveling mash out of the copper brewing vats and hefting massive bags of barley from delivery wagons. Seeing an opportunity in the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition, Poth opened a beer garden and served his own beer, eventually erecting a facility, according to observers, “…that grew to mammoth proportions and employed hundreds of workers.”
Like Buckeye Brewing in Toledo, the Franz Falk Bavaria Brewery in Milwaukee issued many advertising items with children depicted. Shown here are just two trade cards of Falk’s production. Neither image is particularly edifying. The one at left shows a juvenile who is smoking a cigarette while apparently wooing a young lady. At right, lad appears to be splashing water on a girl who clearly is not enjoying the experience. Franz Falk, after learning brewing in his native Germany, emigrated to Milwaukee in 1848. He eventually owned a major plant, occupying five acres, operating eight ice houses and on-site malting production of 100,000 barrels annually. He employed a hundred men, kept twelve teams of horses, made his own barrels and owned his own rail cars.
This journey through kids selling beer began with a baby sucking on a bottle. It ends with a trade card of a group of boys working their way through a case of beer— Yuengling as it turns out — while an irate woman fruitlessly threatens them. This trade card was issued by A. Liebler Bottling Company, a New York City, enterprise founded in 1887 that was a bottler of beer and other beverages, including Yuengling beer of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, that claims to be the oldest operating brewing company in America. One wonders what Frederick Yuengling, son of the founder, thought of his bottling company seemingly encouraging youth drinking while the Prohibitionists were hot to exploit all such inferences.
Using the images of children to sell beer appears to have been another casualty of National Prohibition. After Repeal fourteen years later, brewers decided that such images were no longer appropriate. Thereafter all the babes in beer ads have been fully grown, with curves.