Ballantine’s Literary Ads: Anita Loos

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Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was Anita Loos, who was an American author, best known for her popular book “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” was she adapted into a successful film, along with several other well-known screenplays.

Today is the birthday of Anita Loos (April 26, 1889–August 18, 1981), who was “was an American screenwriter, playwright and author, best known for her blockbuster comic novel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She wrote film scripts from 1912, and became arguably the first-ever staff scriptwriter, when D.W. Griffith put her on the payroll at Triangle Film Corporation. She went on to write many of the Douglas Fairbanks films, as well as the stage adaptation of Colette’s Gigi.”

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Her 1953 piece for Ballantine was done in the form of a short story about dropping a bottle of beer out her hotel window, somewhere with a cold climate:

It took an elevator man and a snowbank to show me how much I really appreciate Ballantine Ale.

One wintry evening I set a bottle of Ballantine on my hotel window ledge to chill. My only bottle — wouldn’t you know it? — toppled off into a snowbank on the rood next door. Immediately the thought occurred to me that the elevator man could climb out of a downstairs window and retrieve it.

But would he wade through the snow for a bottle of ale? My maid, Gladys, who evidently shares Lorelei Lee’s belief that diamonds are indeed a girl’s best friend, solved the problem by telling him I dropped a diamond bracelet, and he never learned the truth until he was standing in the snowbank with the bottle. At that, he seemed to think more of the ale than a bracelet!

I might add that I like Ballantine Ale because it refreshes me. And because it’s so light, it never takes the edge off my appetite. But most of all I like it because it has a flavor all its own that’s beyond anything else I have ever tasted.

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Ballantine’s Literary Ads: John Steinbeck

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Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was John Steinbeck, who’s the “American author of 27 books, including 16 novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories.

Today is the birthday of John Steinbeck (February 27, 1902–December 20, 1968), who was “widely known for the comic novels Tortilla Flat (1935) and Cannery Row (1945), the multi-generation epic East of Eden (1952), and the novellas Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Red Pony (1937). The Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath (1939)[2] is considered Steinbeck’s masterpiece and part of the American literary canon. In the first 75 years after it was published, it sold 14 million copies.

The winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, he has been called ‘a giant of American letters.’ His works are widely read abroad and many of his works are considered classics of Western literature.

Most of Steinbeck’s work is set in southern and central California, particularly in the Salinas Valley and the California Coast Ranges region. His works frequently explored the themes of fate and injustice, especially as applied to downtrodden or everyman protagonists.”

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His piece for Ballantine was done in the form of a few paragraphs of one of his novels about the desert, like “The Grapes of Wrath:”

The sun is straight overhead. There isn’t enough shade to fit under a dog. The threshing machine clanks in a cloud of choking yellow chaff-dust. You wear a bandana over your nose and mouth, but your throats aches and your lips are cracking. Your shirt is black with sweat, but inside you’re dry as the Los Angeles River. The water in the barrel tastes like chaff. It only makes you thirstier.

Let’s say the boss is a man of sense and humanity. When the machine stops for lunch, he comes bucking over the stubble in a jeep, and on the back seat is a wash boiler of crushed ice and bottles of Ballantine Ale. Such a boss will never lack for threshing hands.

Well, first, you take a big swallow to cut the crust, and suddenly you can taste again. The you let cold Ballantine Ale rill into your parched throat like a spring rain on the desert. Smooth malt and hops pull together against the heat and dust and weariness. That’s the biggest thirst I know, and the best antidote.

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Ballantine’s Literary Ads: James A. Michener

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Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was James A. Michener, who’s best known for Tales of the South Pacific.

Today is the birthday of James A. Michener (February 3, 1907–October 16, 1997), who “was an American author of more than 40 books, the majority of which were fictional, lengthy family sagas covering the lives of many generations in particular geographic locales and incorporating solid history. Michener was known for the popularity of his works; he had numerous bestsellers and works selected for Book of the Month Club. He was also known for his meticulous research behind the books.

Michener’s novels include Tales of the South Pacific for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948, Hawaii, The Drifters, Centennial, The Source, The Fires of Spring, Chesapeake, Caribbean, Caravans, Alaska, Texas and Poland. His non-fiction works include Iberia, about his travels in Spain and Portugal; his memoir titled The World Is My Home, and Sports in America. Return to Paradise combines fictional short stories with Michener’s factual descriptions of the Pacific areas where they take place.”

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His piece for Ballantine was done in the form of a letter of recommendation:

Ale, as Ballantine brews it, is one of man’s noblest drinks, and I speak from more than a passing acquaintance with the great beers and ales of the world.

In Ballantine Ale one finds the refreshing thirst-quenching qualities so welcome on a warm day; but hidden in its amber depths is a goodness, a character, a strong satisfying flavor, found in no other brewed beverage.

I commend Ballantine Ale to you as a thirst-quencher, a lesiure-time glass eminently designed to promote sociability.

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Ballantine’s Literary Ads: Louis Bromfield

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Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was Louis Bromfield, who’s best known for as a conservationist and farmer.

Today is the birthday of Louis Bromfield (December 27, 1896–March 18, 1956), who “was an American author and conservationist who gained international recognition, winning the Pulitzer Prize and pioneering innovative scientific farming concepts.”

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His piece for Ballantine was done in the form of his reminiscences about his first Ballantine Ale, and why he continues to recommend it or serve it to friends:

Ballantine Ale is a breeze-tossed field of barley … a handful of sun-warmed aromatic hop leaves … a fusion of light and air and taste.

The golden sun, the warm rains, the richness of the earth itself … all lend their goodness to this delightful drink.

Ale itself is the very symbol of good fellowship, of rich and hearty living throughout centuries.

I have never known Ballantine Ale to be anything but wonderful. Friends and neighbors to whom I offer it tell they never really knew who ale should taste until they changed to Ballantine.

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Beer In Ads #2126: A Merry Christmas In Every Glass


Thursday’s holiday ad is for Ballantine’s, from 1937. A man blows the Ballantine logo smoke rings, while a cartoon balloon contains the words. “A Merry Christmas In Every Glass.” And I love how they try to fit Christmas into the narrative. “There always a festive touch when Ballantine’s Ale or Beer is opened.” So here’s their advice. “So, when your friend foregather in holiday mood, pay them the compliment of serving one of the world’s great drinks. And be generous — put in a goodly supply of the quart bottles or “Bumper” cans.” Who talks that way?

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Ballantine’s Literary Ads: Ellery Queen

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Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was Ellery Queen, who’s best known for writing a series of mystery stories.

Ellery Queen is not actually one person, but two: Frederic Dannay and Manfred Bennington Lee. They “were American cousins from Brooklyn, New York who wrote, edited, and anthologized detective fiction under the pseudonym of Ellery Queen. The writers’ main fictional character, whom they also named Ellery Queen, is a mystery writer and amateur detective who helps his father, Richard Queen, a New York City police inspector, solve baffling murders.” Today is the birthday of Frederic Dannay (October 20, 1905–September 3, 1982), and his co-writer, Manfred Bennington Lee, was born the same year (January 11, 1905–April 3, 1971).

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Their piece for Ballantine was done as if it was one of their cases, but it was less a mystery and more a simple contrast of two unrelated events that both took place the same year. It seems a bit forced, actually, and comes across like pure propaganda, even more so than the other ads in this series.

CASE OF THE CURIOUS COINCIDENCE

1840: Edgar A. Poe was preparing to give the world its first detective story, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” an all-time classic marked by three great qualities: Purity of conception, full-bodied plot, and a style and technique of matchless flavor.

1840: Peter Ballantine created his unique ale and sampled his first brew. Setting down his glass, he exclaimed, “Purity!” A second sip made him exclaim, “Body!” a third, “Flavor!”

Edgar Allen Poe’s Tale, Peter Ballantine’s Ale — American classics with the same three great qualities. Even the Ballantine Ale trade-mark carries out the coincidence of “threes.” For the triple overlapping rings made when Peter Ballantine set down his moist glass on the table top created his 3-ring trade-mark. To this day it sets the standard for Purity, Body and Flavor to connoisseurs of ale everywhere.

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Ballantine’s Literary Ads: J.B. Priestley

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Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was J.B. Priestley, who’s best known novel was probably The Good Companions, though I think he’s more well-known in Great Britain than in the U.S. His ad ran in 1952.

Today is the birthday of John Boynton Priestley, better known as J.B. Priestley (September 13, 1894–August 14, 1984), who “was an English novelist, playwright, scriptwriter, social commentator, man of letters and broadcaster. Many of his plays are structured around a time slip, and he went on to develop a new theory of time, with different dimensions that link past, present and future.”

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His piece for Ballantine was done in the form of essentially listing all of the things he likes about the beer, point by point:

This is what I like, first of all, about Ballantine Ale: It’s a wonderful thirst-quencher. It passes smoothly over the palate, creating at once a fine feeling of refreshment.

At the same time, because it’s got body and flavor, it’s something a man can offer another man when the two of you begin to expand in talk, and perhaps boast a little.

Ballantine Ale is what I like to call “a clean drink.” You take another glass for the sheer pleasure of drinking it, and not because the first glass has failed to fulfill its promises and left you still feeling thirsty.

Finally, I like my Ballantine cold, but not too cold, please. Deep chilling, to my taste, tends to destroy the flavor. And the flavor’s worth keeping.

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Ballantine’s Literary Ads: James Hilton

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Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was James Hilton, who’s best known for a few novels turned into films. His ad ran in 1952.

Today is the birthday of James Hilton (September 9, 1900–December 20, 1954), who “was an English novelist best remembered for several best-sellers, including Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips. He also wrote Hollywood screenplays.”

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His piece for Ballantine was done in the form of his reminiscences about his first Ballantine Ale, and why he continues to recommend it or serve it to friends:

I first tasted Ballantine Ale on a mountain. We left a few bottles hidden in the first snow on the way up, and when we came down they were a treasure trove — deliciously iced and full of the flavor of fellowship and happy hours.

Since then I have enjoyed Ballantine Ale and offered it to friends on many far different occasions — lower in altitude but just as high in satisfaction. For Ballantine Ale is a good drink at all levels — and by a good drink, I mean that I’ve always found it thirst-quenching, smooth and comfortable, kind to the senses and nourishing to the memory.

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Ballantine’s Literary Ads: Henry Morton Robinson

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Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was Henry Morton Robinson, who was reasonably well known in 1951, when his ad ran.

Today is the birthday of Henry Morton Robinson (September 7, 1898–January 13, 1961), who “was an American novelist, best known for A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake written with Joseph Campbell and his 1950 novel The Cardinal, which Time magazine reported was ‘The year’s most popular book, fiction or nonfiction.'”

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His piece for Ballantine was done in the form of his reminiscences about how Ballantine Ale has helped him relax over the years:

If Ballantine Ale didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent it.

The tensions generated by modern life begin to lessen for me whenever I pluck a dewy-cold bottle of Ballantine Ale from the refrigerator. Anticipation mounts as I snap off the cap with its familiar three rings. There’s a promissory gurgle in the neck of the green bottle, then a swirl of full-bodied amber ale into my tilted glass. I watch the creamy collar rise to the brim — and the ritual of pouring is complete.

A sip, a swallow, a draught — according to my mood. Deep speaks to deep, as thirst and tension vanish together. Relaxed, I savor the distinctive after-tang prized by everyone who has ever tasted this hefty brew.

I lift glass and bottle to gauge my remaining measure of enjoyment. I’m prolonging, not scanting, an experience that will be repeated when I open another bottle of Ballantine Ale to be my companion at lunch or dinner.

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Ballantine’s Literary Ads: C. S. Forester

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Between 1951 and 1953, P. Ballantine and Sons Brewing Company, or simply Ballentine Beer, created a series of ads with at least thirteen different writers. They asked each one “How would you put a glass of Ballantine Ale into words?” Each author wrote a page that included reference to their beer, and in most cases not subtly. One of them was C. S. Forester, who’s best known for his Horatio Hornblower novels.

Today is the birthday of Cecil Louis Troughton Smith (August 27, 1899–April 2, 1966), who wrote under the nom de plume Cecil Scott or “C. S.” Forester. He “was an English novelist known for writing tales of naval warfare such as the 12-book Horatio Hornblower series, depicting a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic wars. Two of the Hornblower books, A Ship of the Line and Flying Colours, were jointly awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction in 1938. His other works include The African Queen (1935) and The General (1936).” His Ballantine ad ran in 1952.

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His piece for Ballantine was done in the form of a letter reminiscing about first beers he’d tried doing his travels, including Ballantine the first time he came to New York City:

There’s always a first time for everything, and I still remember my first Ballantine Ale.

I had ordered my first “kleines hells” in Munich, my first Bock in Paris. As a rather bewildered young man in New York, I did a two-hour sight-seeing tour before being shipped to Hollywood, and in the half-hour before my train was to go, I had my first Ballantine Ale.

So my first recollection of Ballantine is linked with the Port of New York, the Empire State Building, and Grand Central Station. All of them were different from anything that had ever come into my experience — and all of them great.

Even then, I realized that the flavor of Ballantine Ale was unique. I thought it better than any brew I had met in Europe’s most famous beer gardens. I still do.

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