Tuesday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1904. The ad is all text, apart from a small logo in the corner. It’s just a notice that drinking beer will keep you healthy, expressed in the headline as “Beer Keeps One Well.” But wait, there’s more. “It is a noticeable fact that those who brew beer, and who drink what they want of it, are usually healthy men.” But I love tis statement. “The malt and the hops are nerve foods.” Nerve foods?
Monday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1935. Today in 1909, Theodore Roosevelt set sail for Africa for a year-long safari, shortly after leaving office as President. His party arrived in Mombasa, British East Africa (now part of Kenya) and added local guides so that their number were just over 250 people. The hunting party included “legendary hunter-tracker R. J. Cunninghame, scientists from the Smithsonian and, from time to time, Frederick Selous, the famous big game hunter and explorer.” During their time there, they collected 11,400 “specimans” for the Smithsonian Institution and for the American Museum of Natural History in New York. These ranged from local flora and fauna up to big game, including “17 lion, 3 leopard, 7 cheetah, 9 hyena, 11 elephant, 10 buffalo, 11 (now very rare) black rhino and 9 White rhino.” You can read more about his adventures in On Safari With Theodore Roosevelt and the Smithsonian–Roosevelt African Expedition.
But in the beer world, the thing that Teddy Roosevelt’s safari is most know for it this. “President Theodore Roosevelt took more than 500 gallons of beer with him on an African safari. Must have been thirsty work!” You see this all over the place, including in today’s ad, which features the tagline “Said T.R. ‘I Want It in Africa.'” And then the artwork, illustrated by Ralph Frederick, shows Roosevelt in Africa followed by men carrying cases of Schlitz beer. Unfortunately, it’s not true. Here’s one account:
Our 26th president loved his beer to the point of brining 500 gallons back from a safari in Africa. That isn’t actually true – it’s a myth. Reality is that Theodore Roosevelt did not drink beer, or much at all, except an occasional Mint Julep. However Teddy Roosevelt knew that beer was powerful, and while training the Rough Riders in Texas, he bought the men all the beer they could drink as a morale booster.
I’ve also read that it was Bass Ale that he took on the safari, but regardless of which beer, it doesn’t really matter which brand since it never happened in the first place. None of the historical accounts of the safari mention the beer which, given the large and heavy amount of beer, you’d expect to be part of the record of the trip. It’s not, as far as I can tell. But it’s a powerful, and persistent, story, and a good story beats the truth almost any day of the week.
Tuesday’s ad is another one for Schlitz, from 1936. Between the recipe for “Famous Schlitz Rarebit” and the man pouring a little Schlitz into whatever that dish is — soup, dip, etc. — it’s clear that Schlitz is cooking with beer. Based on the look on his face, I’d say he’s had a few beers before the guests are even due to arrive. And his wife in the shiny blue dress looks like she’s been keeping up, and is bringing in the next round. It’s going to be a great dinner party!
Monday’s ad is another one for Schlitz, from 1936. “Schlitz, the beer with Sunshine Vitamin-D,” which is where the “Health with Enjoyment” line comes from. Apparently, “Sunshine Vitamin-D” gave people “that feeling of radiant health,” along with “that sense of bracing invigoration and fresh vitality.” That sounds impressive, doesn’t it. But it gets better. The ad continues. “It gives you the cooling tang that soothes heat-frayed nerves and awakens jaded spirits.” But the conclusion is certainly one that would never fly today. “Beer is good for you — but Schlitz, the beer with Sunshine Vitamin D, extra good for you. Drink it daily — for health with enjoyment.”
Sunday’s ad is also for Schlitz, from 1942. So when, exactly, is it that “The world looks brighter?” Why, it’s when you discover “that famous flavor found only in Schlitz.” The other big news in the ad, buried at the bottom is the fact that they just debuted a new quart-size bottle, which they call a “guest bottle.” I wonder why they’d call the larger package a “guest bottle.”
Saturday’s ad is another one for Schlitz, from 1952. It’s an interesting ad, focusing on “the little ‘extras’ that make Schlitz the best-liked beer in history.” They mention three “extra’s,” the “purity born of choice ingredients,” “delicacy of flavor,” and “that extra smoothness.” The artwork was done by Thomas Vroman, who’s more well-known for children’s books. I especially love the woman lying on the beach, with part of her visible through the glass of beer. That’s a cool effect, the way it’s drawn.
Friday’s ad is still another one for Schlitz, from 1956. This is another backyard barbecue-themed ad, like yesterday’s, but in this one at least the attendees are dressed slightly more casually. The art is by Tom Hall, another popular illustrator of the day. What is in that bowl next to the man in the foreground, on the table with two bottles of Schlitz? Are those brown potato chips, or something else?
Thursday’s ad is yet another one for Schlitz, from 1954. You see the main figure from the ad — the King of the grill — appropriated and used in other posters, but this is where it originally appeared. The illustration was by another well-known artist of the day, Tran Mawicke. Don’t you miss dressing up for backyard barbecues? Oh, wait, that never happened, at least not in my lifetime. Also, take a closer look at the salt and pepper shakers hiding behind the Schlitz logo — those are awesome.
Wednesday’s ad is another one for Schlitz, from 1956. The beautiful illustration is by Haddon Sundblom, who’s most famous for his depiction of Santa Claus for Coca-Cola, which pretty much set the standard for how we think of him today, in red and white, not coincidentally Coke’s colors, too. In this ad, a young couple looks like they’re having a romantic lunch date, holding hands as the order. But while the young woman is staring longingly at her date, he’s eying the beer that;s just arrived at the table. There’s only one beer on the tray, so presumably it’s for him. I predict this relationship will fail, if she won’t join him for a beer.
Tuesday’s ad is for Schlitz, from 1953. “‘Round the clock and ’round the calendar — day in and day out — Schlitz quality is assured by hundreds of special, rigid safeguards.” I understand how brewing works, so what exactly might be these “hundreds of special, rigid safeguards?” As a later series of Schlitz ads wondered, “I was curious.” And I especially love this description of the beer. “The light, dry and winsome flavor of Schlitz sparkles.” I don’t drink nearly enough winsome beers anymore.