Thursday’s ad is for “Rheingold Beer,” from 1955. This ad was made for the Rheingold Brewery, which was founded by the Liebmann family in 1883 in New York, New York. At its peak, it sold 35% of all the beer in New York state. In 1963, the family sold the brewery and in was shut down in 1976. In 1940, Philip Liebmann, great-grandson of the founder, Samuel Liebmann, started the “Miss Rheingold” pageant as the centerpiece of its marketing campaign. Beer drinkers voted each year on the young lady who would be featured as Miss Rheingold in advertisements. In the 1940s and 1950s in New York, “the selection of Miss Rheingold was as highly anticipated as the race for the White House.” The winning model was then featured in at least twelve monthly advertisements for the brewery, beginning in 1940 and ending in 1965. Beginning in 1941, the selection of next year’s Miss Rheingold was instituted and became wildly popular in the New York Area. In this newspaper item, from May 9, 1955, they’re showing some of the women at the all-day event where hundreds of aspiring models are vying to be Miss Rheingold 1956.
Archives for February 9, 2023
Historic Beer Birthday: David C. Kuntz
Today is the birthday of David C. Kuntz (February 9, 1877-October 22, 1915). He was born in Waterloo, Ontario, in Canada, and was the grandson of David Kuntz, who established the first brewery in Ontario. He was also the son of Louis Kuntz, David’s son. After the first David Kuntz died, his son Louis Kuntz took over, renaming the the business Louis Kuntz’s Park Brewery, and David C. succeeded his father. Shortly after his passing, in 1930, Canadian Breweries Limited, which had originally been “named Brewing Corporation of Ontario,” was created “by merging The Brading Breweries Limited, an Ottawa company Taylor had inherited from his grandfather, Capital Brewing of Ottawa, and Kuntz Brewery of Waterloo, Ontario.” In 1977 Carling Brewery was purchased by Labatt Breweries of London, but the Waterloo plant was closed by 1993 and all the buildings on the site had been demolished.
This is his obituary, from the Brewers Journal in 1915:
Kuntz brewery works around 1910.
Here’s a brief mention of David C. Kuntz from Flash from the Past: What remains of the Kuntz Brewery legacy?
Louis Kuntz died, aged 39, following an appendectomy in 1891. His children were still young so brother-in-law Frank Bauer, also a brewer, took over. Then David Kuntz died in 1892. Bauer’s own 1895 passing began an almost unbelievable sequence of deaths in the brewery’s management. However, business success continued and in 1910 David Kuntz Jr., Louis’ son, took over. He also died young, 38, in 1915 so his two brothers, Herbert and William stepped in.
Historic Beer Birthday: Joe Allen
Today is the birthday of Joe Allen (February 9, 1888-April 24, 1976). Allen’s parents were Irish and came to America, settling in Minnesota, in 1883. At some point, Joe made his way to San Francisco and was working as a brewer at the Anchor Brewery when it reopened after the end of prohibition in 1933 at 1610 Harrison Street. Unfortunately, less than a year later, in February of 1934, the brewery burned to the ground. Owner Joe Kraus then partnered with his brewmaster, Joe Allen, and they re-built the brewery in an old brick building at 398 Kansas Street, by 1st Street.
Here, I’ll let Anchor Brewery’s website take up the story from The Era of Mass Production.
Kraus and Allen valiantly and lovingly kept Anchor afloat until Kraus’s death in 1952. By late 1959, America’s—even San Francisco’s—new-found “taste” for mass-produced, heavily marketed lighter beers had taken its toll on Anchor’s already declining sales. In July of that year, at the age of 71, Joe Allen shut Anchor down for what would, thankfully, be a brief period.
Again, Anchor Brewing picks up the story, Surviving Another Challenge from 1960.
Lawrence Steese bought and re-opened Anchor in 1960 at yet another nearby location, retaining Joe Allen to carry Anchor’s craft brewing tradition forward. But one of Anchor’s oldest accounts, the Crystal Palace Market had already closed its doors. And Steese had an increasingly difficult time convincing loyal Bay Area establishments to continue serving Anchor Steam. By 1965, Steese—like Allen six years before—was ready to shut Anchor down.
The next year, 1961, the brewery moved to 541 8th Street, where it remained until 1977. Of course, in 1965, another owner invested in the brewery, eventually buying out the remaining partners. That, you probably already know, was Fritz Maytag. There’s not much I could find on Allen’s life before and after he worked at, and then owned, the Anchor Brewery, not even the year of his death. If anyone has any more information, please leave a comment below or contact me directly.
Today is Gŵyl Mabsant, which is an old Welsh holiday that hasn’t been widely observed there since the 1860s, so it’s been gone for some time. But maybe it’s worth bring back. It certainly sounded interesting, especially when one article referred to it as “A Drunken Welsh Mini-Olympics,” and described it thusly:
The Welsh holiday of Gŵyl Mabsant, which celebrates a local parish saint, hasn’t been properly celebrated since the end of the 19th century. It’s a damn shame, too – the whole thing sounds like a blast, with highly unorthodox athletic competitions such as blindfolded wheelbarrow-driving, “fives” (a squash-like game, pictured, played against the church walls), and something called “old women’s grinning matches.” There was also football, bando (a field hockey-like game), and, unfortunately, cockfighting. The mix of alcohol, gambling, and crazy games gave the holiday a bad reputation, ultimately getting it shut down by religious leaders.
And this account is from the Museum of Wales:
The gŵyl mabsant was one of the most popular rural festivals in Wales. Commemorating the local parish saint, this annual celebration developed from a dedication through prayer to a programme of recreational activities, enjoyed by all.
Gŵylmabsantau was mentioned in writing as early as 1470, and the festival was common throughout Wales up until the end of the 19th century.
From cockfighting to grinning matches
Competitions at the festivals ranged from running races to old women’s grinning matches and blindfolded wheelbarrow-driving. At the three day sports event held in Llangyfelach near Swansea in 1780, competitions and prizes included a women’s race for a smock and petticoat and eating a hot pudding for a silver table spoon. Animal sports were a familiar scene, particularly cockfights, on which large amounts of money were wagered. Birds were specially trained for the contest, and the owner of a victorious cockerel was held in high esteem.
Early versions of Association Football were often played over Christmas, New Year and at Shrovetide. Large crowds of spectators gathered to witness the matches, which, owing to a lack of pre-determined rules, tended to degenerate into chaos, with injuries being common.
Bando was another favoured team sport and continued in some areas until the late 19th century. Particularly popular in Glamorgan, bando was similar to the modern game of hockey and teams used clubs to strike the ball towards a goal.
A rowdy reputation
Owing to the combination of betting, feasting and alcohol consumption, it was not surprising that parish festivals built-up a reputation for their rowdiness. Publicans often played a significant role in organising and promoting sports events, many being arranged over the bar. The games contested were high-spirited and unwritten rules were often decided informally before the start of a match. As many sports were localised activities, rules usually differed from place to place, leading to disagreements between parishes.
Concern regarding the unlicensed revelry and alcoholic over-indulgence commonly occurring at the festivals, as well as the doubtful benefits of the games themselves, was increasingly voiced from the 18th century onwards, most noticeably by religious leaders.
Worthless and sinful
The Methodist and other religious revivals which swept across Wales from the mid 18th century until the turn of the 20th century, attacked sporting activities indiscriminately as worthless and sinful. Physical recreation was viewed by some as a great threat to the morals of the population. Eminent religious figures, such as Thomas Charles, tried to suppress impious fairs and festivals, in 1799 he described Wales as “sunk in superstition and vice”. Consequently, parishioners turned increasingly to churches and chapels for release and salvation, and as prayer meetings were sometimes purposely arranged to clash with sports days, religion became a potent force in the eventual decline of the Gŵyl Mabsant.
And this one is from Cracked:
Looking back at some historical holidays, we kind of got an unfair deal. We get Arbor Day, a day theoretically dedicated to trees but practically dedicated to nothing, and Columbus Day, a day celebrated by people trying to defend a racist on the internet. Meanwhile, we don’t get Gwyl Mabsant.
Gwyl Mabsant means “Feast of the Patron,” and it, appropriately, was a religious festival that honored a parish’s patron saint. While it was intended to be a time of prayer, Gwyl Mabsant experienced a major shift around the time of the Reformation. This took away much of the religious context from the festival and replaced it with partying that would make any frat boy jealous.
The true saint of Gwyl Mabsant was booze, and this more popular version of the festival involved days of drinking and participating in sports and games. Contests like eating hot pudding and racing wheelbarrows while blindfolded would get a laugh out of Gwyl Mabsant attendees. Old women participated in “grinning matches,” which might be a version of gurning, an English contest in which people try to make and maintain the ugliest face possible. Drunkenly laughing at old ladies was probably as good a time as drunks were going to have in the days before beer pong and Waffle House.
Gambling was another major appeal to Gwyl Mabsant, and the main draw was cockfighting. Owners became stars of the festival and betting on the fights sort of became the main event.
Nothing screams “Feast of the Patron” like betting on which bird will kill the other.
Of course, between the gambling, drinking, and mocking of the elderly, someone was bound to ruin the fun. Like a resident assistant in a college dorm, someone had to come in and break up the party. In this instance, religious leaders began to object to the festivities associated with Gwyl Mabsant.
Revival movements started pushing back against the festivals around the middle of the 18th century. Gwyl Mabsant didn’t survive in any form much longer, and now one of the most fun holidays but a small blip in the history books and a loss for WorldStar viewers.