Beer In Ads #2256: If You Knew


Sunday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1906. In the first decade of the 20th century, Schlitz Brewing, then one of the largest breweries in the U.S. after the industry had shrunk from over 4,000 to around 1,500 in just 25 or so years, did a series of primarily text ads, with various themes. In this ad, Schlitz is suggesting that if you’d visited their brewery and seen just how clean it was that you’d always order “Schlitz beer” to make sure you weren’t inadvertently served a “common beer.” But even if you do, make sure that the cork or crown is branded. Man, those were some unscrupulous times.

Schlitz-1906-knew

Beer In Ads #2255: Purity


Sunday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1905. In the first decade of the 20th century, Schlitz Brewing, then one of the largest breweries in the U.S. after the industry had shrunk from over 4,000 to around 1,500 in just 25 or so years, did a series of primarily text ads, with various themes. In this ad, Schlitz is still beating the drum on “Purity,” redefining it for the their advertising purposes, trying in effect to own the word. It seems unlikely that most other breweries at the time, especially the ones of equivalent size or success, weren’t taking the same steps in both brewing and keeping the process sanitary, but Schlitz was relentlessly trying to say they were the only one concerned about their beer’s “purity.”

Schlitz-1905-purity

Beer In Ads #2254: We Spend More


Saturday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1907. In the first decade of the 20th century, Schlitz Brewing, then one of the largest breweries in the U.S. after the industry had shrunk from over 4,000 to around 1,500 in just 25 or so years, did a series of primarily text ads, with various themes. In this ad, Schlitz is once more extolling the virtues of spending more on “purity” than any other part of their brewing process. Before, I’d wondered how they;d even do that, but in this ad there’s at least somewhat of an answer. “We wash every bottle four times by machinery. We filter even the air in our cooling rooms. We sterilize every bottle after it is sealed.” And why do they do that? Apparently, it’s “Not to make the beer taste better, or look better.” In fact, they claim It’s “Not to secure any apparent advantage.” No, no, of course not.

Schlitz-1907-health

Beer In Ads #2253: Reputation


Friday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1905. In the first decade of the 20th century, Schlitz Brewing, then one of the largest breweries in the U.S. after the industry had shrunk from over 4,000 to around 1,500 in just 25 or so years, did a series of primarily text ads, with various themes. In this ad, which seems like the least effective of this series, they’re simply saying because they’ve been around fifty years and spend a lot every year on their beer being pure that the “result is world-wide demand.” Hmm.

Schlitz-1905-reputation

“Beer” By Humorist Josh Billings

book
You’ve probably never heard of Josh Billing, the pen name of 19th-century American humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw (April 21, 1818 – October 14, 1885). But in his day — the latter half of the 19th century — he was a pretty famous humorist and lectured throughout the United States. In terms of his fame, he was “perhaps second only to Mark Twain,” though his legacy has not endured nearly as well as Twain’s.

Josh-Billings

Shaw was born in Lanesborough, Massachusetts on April 21, 1818. His father was Henry Shaw, who served in the United States House of Representatives from 1817–21, and his grandfather Samuel Shaw who also served in the U.S. Congress from 1808–1813. His uncle was John Savage, yet another Congressman.

Shaw attended Hamilton College, but was expelled in his second year for removing the clapper of the campus bell. He married Zipha E. Bradford in 1845.

Shaw worked as a farmer, coal miner, explorer, and auctioneer before he began making a living as a journalist and writer in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1858. Under the pseudonym “Josh Billings” he wrote in an informal voice full of the slang of the day, with often eccentric phonetic spelling, dispensing wit and folksy common-sense wisdom. His books include Farmers’ Allminax, Josh Billings’ Sayings, Everybody’s Friend, Choice Bits of American Wit and Josh Billings’ Trump Kards. He toured, giving lectures of his writings, which were very popular with the audiences of the day. He was also reputed to be the eponymous author of the “Uncle Ezek’s Wisdom” column in the Century Magazine.

In addition to wise sayings, he wrote numerous short, humorous pieces, including this odd one, entitled …

BEER.

I HAV finally com tew the konclusion, that lager beer iz not intoxikatin.
I hav been told so bi a german, who sed he had drank it aul nite long, just tew tri the experiment, and was obliged tew go home entirely sober in the morning. I hav seen this same man drink sixteen glasses, and if he was drunk, he was drunk in german, and noboddy could understand it. It iz proper enuff tew state, that this man kept a lager-beer saloon, and could have no object in stating what want strictly thus.
I beleaved him tew the full extent ov mi ability. I never drank but 3 glasses ov lager beer in mi life, and that made my hed untwist, as tho it was hung on the end ov a string, but i was told that it was owing tew my bile being out ov place, and I guess that it was so, for I never biled over wuss than i did when I got home that nite. Mi wife was afrade i was agoing tew die, and i was almoste afrade i shouldn’t, for it did seem az tho evrything i had ever eaten in mi life, was cuming tew the surface, and i do really beleave, if mi wife hadn’t pulled oph mi boots, just az she did, they would have cum thundering up too.
Oh, how sick i was! it was 14 years ago, and i kan taste it now.
I never had so much experience, in so short a time.
If enny man should tell me that lager beer was not intoxikating, i should beleave him; but if he should tell me that i want drunk that nite, but that my stummuk was only out ov order, i should ask him tew state over, in a few words, just how a man felt and akted when he was well set up.
If i want drunk that nite, i had sum ov the moste natural simptoms a man ever had, and keep sober.
In the fust place, it was about 80 rods from whare i drank the lager, tew my house, and i was over 2 hours on the road, and had a hole busted thru each one ov mi pantaloon kneeze, and didn’t hav enny hat, and tried tew open the door by the bell-pull, and hickupped awfully, and saw evrything in the 417 room tryin tew git round onto the back side ov me, and in setting down onto a chair, i didn’t wait quite long enuff for it tew git exactly under me, when it was going round, and i sett down a little too soon, and missed the chair by about 12 inches, and couldn’t git up quick enuff tew take the next one when it cum, and that ain’t aul; mi wife sed i waz az drunk az a beast, and az i sed before, i begun tew spit up things freely.

billings-beer-1
Illustration possibly by Thomas Nast.

If lager beer iz not intoxikating, it used me almighty mean, that i kno.
Still i hardly think lager beer iz intoxikating, for i hav been told so, and i am probably the only man living, who ever drunk enny when hiz bile want plumb.
I don’t want tew say ennything against a harmless tempranse bevridge, but if i ever drink enny more it will be with mi hands tied behind me, and mi mouth pried open.
I don’t think lager beer iz intoxikating, but if i remember right, i think it tastes to me like a glass with a handle on one side ov it, full ov soap suds that a pickle had bin put tew soak in.

The American Humorists
A photo of Billings with Mark Twain and political commentator Petroleum V. Nasby, photographed in Boston by G. M. Baker in November of 1869.

In another collection of his work, entitled “Josh Billings, Hiz Sayings: With Comic Illustrations,” published in 1865, Billings presents his definition of Lager:

Billings-lager

Beer In Ads #2252: The After-Effects


Thursday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1906. In the first decade of the 20th century, Schlitz Brewing, then one of the largest breweries in the U.S. after the industry had shrunk from over 4,000 to around 1,500 in just 25 or so years, did a series of primarily text ads, with various themes. In this ad, Schlitz is once again talking about how over half the cost of their brewing process is devoted to insuring their beer is pure, to avoid the after-effects of biliousness.

Schlitz-1906-after-effects

Beer In Ads #2251: Taste


Wednesday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1905. In the first decade of the 20th century, Schlitz Brewing, then one of the largest breweries in the U.S. after the industry had shrunk from over 4,000 to around 1,500 in just 25 or so years, did a series of primarily text ads, with various themes. In this ad, Schlitz states that their beer “is unequaled — even in the old world brews.” That’s followed up by this curious statement. “Then we double the necessary cost of our brewing to attain absolute purity.” That seems like a bad business decision. That must be what the bean counters decided needed to be overcompensated, when they told the brewers to start cutting corners, the decision that sank the company.

Schlitz-1905-taste

Beer In Ads #2250: Value


Tuesday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1905. In the first decade of the 20th century, Schlitz Brewing, then one of the largest breweries in the U.S. after the industry had shrunk from over 4,000 to around 1,500 in just 25 or so years, did a series of primarily text ads, with various themes. In this ad, Schlitz is trying to persuade their customers that buying their beer at the same price as other beers that is like getting Schlitz for half-price. Because “the cost of purity exceeds the cost of brewing.” In other words, it’s still nice at twice the price. Now that’s value.

Schlitz-1905-value

Beer In Ads #2249: The Yeast


Monday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1906. In the first decade of the 20th century, Schlitz Brewing, then one of the largest breweries in the U.S. after the industry had shrunk from over 4,000 to around 1,500 in just 25 or so years, did a series of primarily text ads, with various themes. In this ad, Schlitz claims their yeast is “a secret” and that it’s responsible, at least in part, for its “peculiar goodness.” I’m not sure I’d want to describe my beer as “peculiar,” not matter good its peculiarity.

Schlitz-1906-yeast

Beer In Ads #2248: Aging


Sunday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1905. In the first decade of the 20th century, Schlitz Brewing, then one of the largest breweries in the U.S. after the industry had shrunk from over 4,000 to around 1,500 in just 25 or so years, did a series of primarily text ads, with various themes. In this ad, Schlitz is saying fuck freshness, what you really want is old beer. No, not really, but it’s still an odd message that you don’t want beer that’s “too green,” or as the ad copy claims. “Beer doesn’t cause biliousness if it is aged well. It’s the green beer that should be avoided.” And thanks to Schlitz aging their beer “for months before it’s marketed,” “[t]he result is beer that is good for you.”

Schlitz-1905-aging