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 Clarence Budington Kelland, who was an American writer. He once described himself as “the best second-rate writer in America”
Today is the birthday of Clarence Budington Kelland (July 11, 1881–February 18, 1964). “Although largely forgotten now, Kelland had a long career as a writer of fiction and short stories, stretching from 1913 to 1960. He was published in many magazines, including The Saturday Evening Post and The American Magazine. A prolific writer, his output included sixty novels and some two hundred short stories. His best known juvenile works were the Mark Tidd series and the Catty Atkins series, while his best known adult work was the Scattergood Baines series. Other notable adult books by Kelland include Conflict (1920), Rhoda Fair (1925), Hard Money (1930), Arizona (1939), and Dangerous Angel (1953). Kelland was the “literary idol” of the teenaged John O’Hara. He was referred to in a 1995 installment of Harlan Ellison’s television commentary, Harlan Ellison’s Watching for the program Sci-Fi Buzz, wherein Ellison laments what he perceives as a prevailing cultural illiteracy.
Kelland’s work resulted in some thirty Hollywood movies, including Speak Easily (1932) starring Buster Keaton. Opera Hat, a serial from The American Magazine, was the basis for the film Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936) starring Gary Cooper. Opera Hat later was turned into the short-lived television series Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1969–70), and the movie Mr. Deeds (2002). One of Kelland’s best-known characters was featured in the Scattergood Baines series of six films from 1941 to 1943, starring Guy Kibbee.”
His 1952 piece for Ballantine was done as a reminiscence of his first taste of Ballantine in America, just after a well-played round of golf:
Ballangine is a companionable drink.
With a glass in hand, conversation seems to flow more freely, and even controversial subjects are discussed more tolerantly in a spirit of friendship.
Ballantine Ale does not interrupt, but becomes a charming part of conversation. It seems to belong with pleasant words and valued friends — to be lingered over its thoughtful enjoyment.
When a party of gentlemen gathers for purposes serious or genial, Ballantine Ale becomes a sort of moderator. It seems, somehow, to mellow the atmosphere in tune with its own mellowness. It is the most desirable of all social beverages.