I. Rokeach & Sons, Brooklyn N. Y., Refined Oils


Israel Rokeach is credited with organizing the first kosher soap company in America. During the first half of the 20th Century his company, I Rokeach & Sons, evolved from simply a manufacturer of kosher soap and vegetable oil into a business that, according to a 1950 “Asbury Park Press” story:

produced everything used in the kitchen from cleaning to eating.

Products are still sold today under the Rokeach name.

Israel Rokeach’s career began, not in America, but overseas in Lithuania where he was born in 1841. According to a feature on the Rokeach business written years later in the January 20, 1980 edition of the “Asbury Park (N. J.) Press:”

Rokeach discovered in 1870 that soap could be made from vegetable oil rather than non-kosher lard. Orthodox Jews were prohibited from using the traditional cleaning product.

But with Rokeach’s discovery a ready market was eager to purchase the firm’s new product guaranteeing the company’s initial success.

Several internet sources and even some Rokeach advertisements produced years later also indicate that his soap hit the market as early as 1870. While this may be true on a small scale, the “Statement of Facts” in a 1935 case heard in the Appellate Division  of  the New York State Supreme Court made it clear that it wasn’t until 1884 that Rokeach actually established a company to sell the product.

Israel Rokeach established in 1884 in the City of Kovno, Lithuania, the business of manufacturing and selling white oblong cakes of Kosher soap and originated and popularized the idea of putting three Hebrew letters either in red or blue coloring spelling the word “Kosher”all the way through the soap.

This early pictorial representation of Rokeach’s soap cake was found in the April 18, 1924 edition of “The Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle.”

The court records go on to say:

In 1894 said Israel Rokeach came to the United States and became a resident and citizen thereof. In that year he commenced, in the City of New York, the sale of Kosher soap… and also commenced the sale of vegetable oil for domestic use.

Their vegetable oil, available in both tins and bottles, was depicted in another “Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle” advertisement, this one in their June 13, 1924 edition. The ad touted it as:

Best for baking, frying and salads.

Several Internet sources suggest that Rokeach arrived in the United States, not in 1894, but as early as 1890, while  1910 census records record his arrival in the U. S. as 1891.  That being said, the first directory entry I can find for him was in 1893/1894, when he listed a Manhattan address of 30 Suffolk Street and the occupation “soap.” So, suffice to say, his U. S. business was up and running sometime in the early to mid-1890’s.

Up through the early 1900’s Rokeach was apparently content to only supply the Jewish population of New York’s Lower East Side with his soap and vegetable oil. During this time he listed lower Manhattan addresses of 48 Market Street in the late 1890’s  and 8 Birmingham Street in the early 1900’s.

Then, in 1906, according to the court records, Rokeach formed a partnership consisting of himself and his three sons, Aaron, Louis and Levi, calling it “I. Rokeach & Sons.” At this point, his “Rokeach Hand Soap” was apparently gaining traction in other parts of the City as evidenced by this February 10, 1906 advertisement for a Brooklyn department store named Lautman’s. The ad, partially reproduced below appeared in a Brooklyn newspaper called “The Chat” (his hand soap appears on the lower right-hand side).

Shortly after this advertisement was published the company moved to Brooklyn where they listed their address as 29 Ten Eyck Street in Brooklyn’s 1908 directory. By 1910, they had moved to 409 Hewes Street, also in Brooklyn.

Five years after forming their partnership the business incorporated as I. Rokeach & Sons, Inc. The notice of incorporation appeared in the December 14, 1911 edition of the “Brooklyn Times Union.”

The corporation styled “I. Rokeach & Sons, Inc.,” of Brooklyn has been chartered with a capital of $25,000, divided into shares of $100 each, to make and sell soap, scouring powder, etc. The directors are Israel Rokeach, Louis Rokeach and Levi Rokeach of Brooklyn.

Around the same time the company also began to expand its product menu, periodically adding new items to complement their kosher soap. By the early 1930’s the company was manufacturing a menu of “Household Products” that, according to this July 19, 1935 advertisement in the “Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle,” will:

Keep Your Home Clean and Kosher

Likewise, another “Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle” advertisement, this one in their August 8, 1935 edition, made it clear that their vegetable oil was now one of a number of:

Pure and Kosher Food Products

Later, the company even added wine to the menu as evidenced by this licensing notification that was appearing in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” as early as January, 1941.

This selection of their wines appeared in a  March 20, 1945 “N. Y. Daily News”  advertisement for Hearn’s Department Stores under the heading “Fine Passover Wines & Liquors.”

As the company’s product menu expanded so did their facilities. As early as 1913, a May 31st article in “The Chat” announced that they were moving to a new location on Hewes Street (No. 345).

The six-story and basement brick factory building, formerly occupied by the Thomas Shoe Co., and located at the southwest corner of South Fifth and Hewes Streets, was sold during the past week. The factory is of heavy mill construction, with boiler, engine, elevators, being built on a plot 75×100…

The purchasers, I Rokeach & Sons, Inc., are the largest bottlers of salad oil in Greater New York. They are also extensively engaged in the manufacture of scouring powder. The concern was established in 1891, and their business has grown to such an extent that they will now utilize the entire building for the manufacture and distribution of their products.

They contemplate making many alterations and improvements to the building.

An item in the October 4, 1928 edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” announced that the company was on the move again, this time to a newly constructed building at 240 Wythe Ave, also in Brooklyn.

I. Rokeach & Sons, Inc., awarded the building contract for a new factory at N. 3rd St. and Wythe Ave. to Turner Construction Company. Construction will start immediately. The building will be four stories and basement in height, 200 x 90 in plan, reinforced concrete throughout.

A decade later, in 1940, the company added a second location to the business, this one in New Jersey. The announcement appeared in the April 11, 1940 edition of the “Asbury Park Press.”

I. Rokeach and Sons, Brooklyn, has purchased the Farmers and Packers plant at Farmingdale, N. J., for establishment of a new business in canning soups and other products…

The plant has not been operated for about a year. It includes a one-story building, contains 20,000 square feet of floor space, on a three-acre plot.

The Rokeach’s will employ about 75 persons in the new enterprise…

The reasoning behind the new location was explained years later in the October 19, 1952 edition of the “Asbury Park Press,” by  William I. Rokeach, a grandson of Israel Rokeach who at the time was a vice president in the firm.

Until 1940 all production was done in New York. But high costs of water and shipping vegetables to the city prompted the firm to hunt for a new location.

“We settled on Farmingdale,” said Mr. Rokeach, “because it is right in the heart of a great farming area. We are now able to obtain all our fresh vegetables within 30 miles of the plant.”

Within several months of the announcement the company was already soliciting local farmers for their vegetable crop as evidenced by this advertisement for carrots in the September 27, 1940 edition of “The Freehold (N.J.) Transcript.”

…which led to among other things a variety of canned soups.

On a side note: ironically, during World War II, German prisoners of war actually worked alongside local workers at the Farmingdale facility. According to a January 20, 1945 “N. Y. Daily News” story headlined “Hey Adolf – This Kosher?”

Farmingdale, N. J., Fifteen German prisoners of war, quartered at Fort Dix, are packaging kosher food products at the I. Rokeach & Sons plant here, it was learned today. They’ve even developed a fondness for the kosher food, fellow workers reported. The prisoners are employed to help meet the manpower shortage under contract between the company and the government.

In 1950, I. Rokeach & Sons decided to expand the Farmingdale plant and consolidate the entire operation there. The announcement appeared in the December 10, 1950 edition of the “Asbury Park Press.”

Work has been started on a 40,000 square foot addition to the I. Rokeach and Sons plant at Chestnut and Water Streets.

William Rokeach, vice president of the firm, which prepares foods and manufactures cleansers, said that when the expansion is completed all production at the company’s 75 year-old Brooklyn Plant (not sure how they came up with that number…they operated in Brooklyn for roughly 45 years so maybe its a typo?) will be transferred here.

Mr. Rokeach said the present staff of 40 employees will be increased to 100 when the new facilities are completed….The new building will triple the company’s capacity here.

The company’s production includes “everything used in the kitchen from cleaning to eating,” Mr. Rokeach said.

The announcement included this rendering of the expanded New Jersey facility.

A year later, an October 19, 1952 story in the “Asbury Park Press” referred to the company as “the world’s biggest manufacturer of kosher food products.”

The company, which processes 50 different products, is the world’s biggest manufacturer of kosher food products. Its most widely distributed items are soap, canned soups, borscht, gefillte fish, scouring powder and silver polish.

From 50 to 150 persons work at the one-story plant, depending on the season.

This detailed listing of the company’s early 1950’s offerings appeared in the March 24, 1953 edition of the “N. Y. Daily News” under the heading “Your Passover Shopping List!”

Up to this point, over the course of three generations the Rokeach family remained active in the company business. This changed in 1956 when, according to a feature on the Rokeach business published in the January 20, 1980 edition of the “Asbury Park Press:”

An 86-year tradition was broken in 1956 when the firm was sold to a Wall Street group and a Rokeach no longer was listed among officers on the company letterhead.

This change apparently led to a diversification of the business that four years later resulted in the sale of the kosher food business.” The August 12, 1960 edition of the “Buffalo Jewish Review” announced the sale in a story under the headline: “Company Plans Shift From Borscht to Bras.”

I Rokeach & Sons Inc. announced that it will sell its Kosher Food Division to Crown Products Corp. and will continue negotiations for acquisition of Exquisite Form Brassiere, Inc.

Benjamin C. Wheetler, Rokeach president, said the Kosher Division, which had sales under $3 million a year, had been unprofitable for the past six years. Crown will acquire the Rokeach Kosher food products plant at Farmingdale N. J., existing inventories and the right to use the Rokeach name. The sale must be approved by the Rokeach stockholders.

Two months later, according to a story in the October 14, 1960 edition of the “Bridgeport (Conn) Post:” the stockholder approval of the sale was obtained along with approval of a corporate name change.

L Rokeach & Sons, Inc., shareholders at a special meeting today approved proposals designed to merge Rokeach with Exquisite Form Brassiere, Inc… They also voted to change the name of I Rokeach to Exquisite Form Industries, Inc.

The new company will devote its energies primarily to the manufacture of women’s foundation garments, a spokesman said. Rokeach, which had been engaged both in food manufacturing and production of women’s undergarments, sold its food business recently. A spokesman for Exquisite Form said that Exquisite Form’s sales, plus the non-food business of Rokeach totaled “in the area of $25,000,000.

Crown Products apparently continued the kosher food business under the I. Rokeach & Sons name with Monroe Nash now serving as president of the subsidiary. The 1980 “Asbury Park Press” feature on Rokeach mentioned that at the time, the company had a total payroll of 120 employees and was manufacturing more than 75 kosher products that were distributed to about 1,000 accounts.  Sales during the 1978 fiscal year were reportedly $9 million, and sales had recently increased when the company acquired Mother’s Food Products, Inc., and its Newark N. J. production facility in January, 1979. By then, the company also maintained a corporate office in Englewood Cliffs with 15 employees.

That 1980 feature went on to say that the company remained true to its kosher roots.

Rokeach continues to follow all prescribed religious practices for the production of kosher products which allows it to display The Union of Orthodox Congregations’ endorsement on its packaging.

Only kosher ingredients are used by Rokeach. It observes all Jewish religious holidays, including the Sabbath, by halting production.

After 48 years, in 1988 the company shut down its Farmingdale N. J. plant consolidating the entire Rokeach operation at the Mother’s Food Products plant in Newark N. J. The reasoning behind the move was explained in an August 31, 1988 story in the “Asbury Park Press.”

In separate decisions, I. Rokeach & Sons Inc., a kosher foods canner on Water Street, and Foster Canning Co., a pet foods canner on Railroad Avenue, are ceasing operations after about a half century as two of the borough’s businesses.

Rokeach, a subsidiary of publicly held Crown Cork & Seal Co., Engelwood Cliffs, has laid off 72 of its 75 workers under a plan to relocate its business to the company’s Newark plant by the end of September.

Rising water costs and an inability to attract workers for production jobs paying between $5 and $8 per hour made operations at the 48-year-old, 150,000 square foot Rokeach plant unprofitable, said Oney Sims, vice president of manufacturing.

State Department of Environmental Protection regulations that require area municipalities to cut groundwater use by 40 to 50 percent by 1990 to prevent salt water intrusion figured heavily in the decision, Sims said.

“We were considering either closing the Newark plant or the plant here,” Sims said. “When we looked at how high our water costs would be, the choice was obvious.”

Under DEP rules, enacted in 1985, Rokeach would have had to buy 100,000 gallons of the approximately 200,000 gallons of water it used daily from expensive treated surface water sources, he noted.

Ultimately, the Rokeach brand was acquired by R. A. B. Food Group in May, 2006. The company had previously acquired the Manischewitz  brand in 1998. According to a December 11, 2006 story in the New Jersey “Courier News:”

In addition to new products at Manischewitz, R. A. B. Food Group’s growth comes from acquiring smaller kosher labels and the consolidation of operations at a renovated, more modern plant in Newark. This May, it acquired the 136-year-old Rokeach brand, whose holdings include Mother’s, Mrs. Adler’s and Margareten.

To this day, items are still sold under the Rokeach name.

The six-story Brooklyn building at 345 Hewes Street that I. Rokeach & Sons occupied from 1913 to 1929 remains to this day. Built in 1900, today its occupied by Bnos Chayil, a private all-girls Jewish school.

The four-story building on Wythe Avenue that the company built in 1929 also remains to this day. It’s currently a rental building with 48 units.

The company’s Farmingdale, N. J. building, pictured here (likely in the 1970’s?) looks pretty much the same today.

It’s currently occupied by Kid International.

The bottle I found is machine made and contains about seven ounces. Its embossed:

“I. Rokeach & Sons, Refined Oils, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Similar versions of the Rokeach bottle that occasionally appear on the internet include the added embossed letters “INC,” below the company name. This suggests that the embossing may have changed when the company incorporated in 1911.

If so, it’s likely that the subject bottle, which doesn’t include the embossed “INC.” dates no later than 1911 when the business incorporated in New York.  That being said, recognizing its machine made I expect that it wasn’t made much earlier either, say 1905 to 1911.

The other side of the bottle exhibits the embossed outline of a crown and the Star of David. Both likely outlined paper labels that are readily apparent in the 1924 advertisement that appeared earlier in this post.




Hamilton Glass Works, N. Y.

The Hamilton Glass Works in New York was a short-lived Brooklyn based business operated by a partnership called D. O. Ketcham & Co. Their factory was generally located adjacent to the Gowanus Canal, on the east side of  Smith Street, near or at the intersection of Hamilton Avenue. The company  was only operational from 1851 to 1854.

The business had its beginnings with a man named Daniel O. Ketchum who, in the late 1840’s, served as an agent for the Albany Glass Works. This advertisement bearing his name and title appeared in the April 11, 1849 edition of the “Buffalo Courier Express.”

On or about May, 1, 1851, with the Albany Glass Works no longer in business, Ketchum formed a partnership with Charles H. Cole and John M. Scott to manufacture glass.  According to Ketchum’s testimony in in the case of George Catlin against Charles H. Cole, John B. Thursby, Robert G Thursby, James S. Thursby and Samuel J. Thursby; N.Y. Court of Appeals; 1861:

About two years previous to that time, I had been connected with the Albany  Glass Works, as agent for that company in Albany. Their business was the manufacture of glass. Mr. Cole had no experience in the glass business. He was a ship-chandler….  Scott was a practical glass-maker… It was arranged that I should manage the business principally.

The name was suggested by its location on Hamilton Avenue….

Ketchum’s testimony went on to say that sometime in the latter part of May, or early part of June, 1851, they commenced building their Brooklyn factory.

We built a large factory with the necessary outbuildings, for the purpose of manufacturing glass. The tools, etc., purchased from the Albany Glass Works, were removed  to this factory, and afterwards used there. Mr. Cole resided in Albany, and continued to carry on his ship-chandlery business. I left Albany, with my family, about the 1st of July, 1851, and came down here immediately… I think we commenced manufacturing about the 1st of September, 1851.

It was also sometime in 1851 that the company opened an office across the East River in Manhattan. After a short stay at 59 Pearl Street, in 1852 the office moved to 59 Cortlandt Street, also in Manhattan. This item announcing the move appeared in the May 5, 1852 edition of the “New York Herald.”

The following advertisement, exhibiting their new office address, listed a wide range of glassware being produced at the glass works. It included demijohns, druggists’ glass vials and carboys as well as wine, porter, mineral water and patent medicine bottles. The ad appeared in the September 15, 1852 edition of “The Springfield (Mass.) Daily Republican.”

Ketchum’s testimony went on to point out that the company actually manufactured glassware for less than two years.

The partnership between myself, Scott and Cole was dissolved July 1, 1853. Scott at that date, went out and Cole and myself continued on – not in the manufacturing business, but in the purchase and sale of glass, and selling glass on commission.

Less than a year later the business was insolvent and, on April 14, 1854, an agreement to dissolve the firm was executed.

Ketcham subsequently transitioned into the “oil” business and for the next ten years continued to list the glass factory location, Smith c. Hamilton, as the address for that business. Then sometime in the mid-1860’s members of the Hagerty family apparently took possession of the factory.  According to “Glass Firms of the Hagerty  Brothers,” by Bill Lockhart, Bill Lindsey, Carol Sera and Beau Schriever, the Hagerty’s had been in the glass business as a jobbers since 1849 and planned to use the factory to supply  glass to their sales outlet.

As early as 1865/1866 the firm of Haggerty, Gardiner & Burrows was listed in the N. Y. C. directory on Smith Street with the occupation “glass manufacturer.”  At this point the factory was named  the Brooklyn Green Glass Works, as evidenced by this classified ad published in the August 27, 1867 edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”

Over the next 25 plus years, the business operated under several different Haggerty controlled companies including B. B. Hagerty & Co. (circa 1870 to 1876); Hagerty Bros. & Co. (1878 to 1890); and A. J. Hagerty & Co. (1890’s). That being said, by the early 1870’s the business was generally referred to as simply the Hagerty Glass Works. Their advertisement appeared in the 1875/1876 Brooklyn city directory…

…and a rendering of their facility appeared in the business section of the same directory

Ultimately, a story in the January 7, 1894 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle indicated that the plant shut down in June, 1893 due to poor economic conditions..

The glass making industry fell on evil times during 1893. The green glass works of A. J Hagerty & Co., Smith Street, in fair seasons usually gave employment to two hundred and fifty hands. These works have been shut down since June. James F. Haggerty says he does not know when they would open up again. The depression was general throughout the country…

Whether the glass works reopened again is unclear but either way the end was certainly in sight and by March/April of 1900 Brooklyn Daily Eagle classified ads announced that the Hamilton Avenue facility was up for sale.

The subject bottle is small, maybe six to eight ounces and emerald green. Blown in a mold, it exhibits an improved pontil scar. The embossing is faint but readable with “Hamilton Glass Works” appearing in an arch over “N.Y.” The lettering of the “N. Y.” is slightly larger than that of “Hamilton Glass Works.” The bottle certainly dates between Sept, 1851 and  June, 1853 when glass was manufactured there under that name.

Mellin’s Infant’s Food, Doliber, Goodale & Co., Boston, U.S.

Around the turn of the century Mellin’s Food was marketed as a substitute for mother’s milk. What mother could resist the sales pitch found in a 1901 publication called “The Trained Nurse and Hospital Review.”

Children fed on Mellin’s  Food have strong, rugged bodies, sound teeth, and firm flesh; they are healthy and happy, and bring comfort to the home. These results are produced because Mellin’s Food is a suitable and satisfactory food. It is not a medicine. It gives results because it furnishes suitable nutrition in a form which the child can assimilate. A full and natural development is the result…

The thousands of healthy, happy children raised on Mellin’s Food are the strongest testimonials. Hence it is said by the Mellin’s Food Company, quoting Shakespeare, “We are advertised by our loving friends.”

By the late 1890’s Mellin’s Food was being manufactured and sold world wide with Mellin Food Companies located in London, England, Boston, Massachusetts, India and Australia/New Zealand. Doliber & Goodale of Boston, later named the Mellin Food Company of North America, owned the North American rights to its  manufacture and sale.

The story of “Mellin’s Infant  Food” starts not in Boston but rather in London with the originator of “Mellin’s Food,” a chemist named Gustav Mellin whose early career was encapsulated in his obituary, found in the January 12, 1903 edition of the “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record.”

Gustav Mellin….was a native of Wesselburenin the Duchy of Holstein, where his father was a pharmacist. After serving an apprenticeship to pharmacy young Mellin went to London and served for a time on the apothecaries’ staff of the German Hospital. After a few years’ experience in various pharmacies in London, in 1854 he went to Roberts & Co., Paris, but he did not remain there for any length of time. Securing a position with a surgeon who conducted a pharmacy in Regent Street, it was not long before he got a share of the business, and when the surgeon died Mr. Mellin found himself in the possession of a flourishing concern. It was in that establishment that he continued his work on the preparation of infants’ food that he had begun some years before. At first he produced a liquid food, then a Baroness von Learner and her husband came to him with an introduction from Liebig…

Baron Von Liebig was a chemist who had previously devised a liquid formula for an infant’s food. That being said, the difficulties of preparation were such that it was nearly impossible for it to be made in the home. That’s where Gustav Mellin came in. According to a booklet entitled “The Feeding of Infants,” produced by Mellin’s Food Co., in 1904:

Gustav Mellin, Chemist, London, England, after years of experiment and patient effort, after many trials and many failures, succeeded in perfecting a process by which he made use of all materials used by Liebig except the milk and water, thereby manufacturing  Liebig’s food in a form adapted to the limitations of the home. All that is necessary to reproduce Liebig’s original modified milk is to combine the proper portions of Mellin’s Food, milk and water.  

As early as 1870 the London Post Office Directory of Chemists and Druggists named Gustav Melin as the “manufacturer of patent extract for Liebig’s infants’ food,” listing him with an address of 16 Tichborne St. W.

Recognizing that the directory was published in 1870, it’s almost certain that Mellin began its manufacture sometime in the mid to late 1860’s.(several sources say 1867).

This advertisement, found in the December 1, 1871 edition of “The British Homeopathic Review” suggested that in the early 1870’s the operation was still quite limited with the food both manufactured and sold locally on Trichborne Street, likely in the drug store Mellin had inherited when his partner, the surgeon, passed away.

It was at Tichborne Street where, in 1876,  Mellin met Thomas Doliber. Born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, A feature on Doliber in the November 1, 1891 edition of “The Pharmaceutical Era” provides a recap of his early life.

When fifteen years old he began to give such hours as the school sessions would permit to the services of the local apothecary, (of) John Roundy… Soon he was permanent clerk in Mr. Roundy’s store, but like thousands of other New England boys, in a few years, his native town became too small for his growing ambition and his thoughts turned citywards. So, early in 1855, he was to be found in the best of Boston’s stores – Metcalf’s.

The feature went on to say that on January 1, 1863 he became the junior member in the apothecary business of Theodore Metcalf & Co. and by the early 1870’s was in personal charge of the company’s  manufacturing department. It was in this role that Doliber became acquainted with Gustav Mellin and his food for infants.

Doliber picks up the story from there in his own words found in the November, 1894 edition of the “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record.”

“The way of it was this,” said Mr. Doliber. “While I was with Theodore Metcalf & Co., a lady, one of our best customers, came into the store one day and said she wanted us to put up some “Mellin’s Food” for her. It was an English preparation discovered by Gustav Mellin of London, who had worked it out on the principles advanced by Liebig. The lady, who is still alive and living in Boston, had had it prescribed for her sick baby while she was over in London.

On her return she brought over with her what she thought would be a sufficient quantity. But her supply gave out, and then she came to us. There was none in the country; in fact, no one in America knew anything about it. But the lady, who was rich, said she must have it without delay, and instructed us to cable for it.

This was in 1874. Our order came, and we got such good reports from it that we went for more. The sale increased so rapidly that in 1876 I went to London and made a contact with Mr. Mellin for the exclusive American agency…”

The 1891 Pharmaceutical Era feature on Doliber described their  initial meeting.

He found Mr. Mellin not in a mansion, but in the back room of a small London pharmacy, which had been his headquarters since 1866. Mr. Doliber asked if he would give to Metcalf & Co. the exclusive rights for the sale of Mellin’s Food in America. After thinking awhile Mr. Mellin answered in the affirmative, conditional with the firm agreeing to at least take a stated quantity each year.

Almost immediately after securing  the U. S. rights to sell “Mellin’s Food'” Thomas Metcalf & Co. began advertising it to the medical profession. As early as  May 4, 1876 this advertisement was appearing in “The Boston Medical & Surgical Journal.”

Within a year they were also advertising it to the general public as evidenced by the following ad that appeared in several July, 1877 editions of the “Boston Evening Transcript.”

If we are to believe this  January 1, 1885 “Boston Globe” advertisement the sale of “Mellin’s Food” in the United States grew exponentially over the next several years; growth that would  ultimately transition a mother’s simple request into a successful, independent manufacturing operation.

That transition began in 1880 when Doliber revisited Mellin in London and obtained the rights to manufacture the food, not just in the United States, but in all of North America. According to the 1891 “Pharmaceutical Era” feature:

When the necessary papers were being drawn, Mr. Doliber said: “But see here, Mr. Mellin, what in your mind constitutes North America?”

“From the North Pole to Panama inclusive,” came the quick response.

The feature went on to say that on January 1, 1882 Doliber established the Mellin’s Food Department of T. Metcalf & Co., opening a separate laboratory  at 41 Central Wharf in Boston.

Within a year the department had outgrown this space, forcing them to expand into the adjoining building at 42 Central Wharf.

A  year later, Metcalf and Doliber dissolved their partnership and went on to establish two independent companies. One, run by Metcalf in partnership with Frank A. Davidson, called Theodore Metcalf & Co., remained on Tremont Street and continued the pharmacy business, while the other, run by Doliber in partnership with Thomas Goodale, called Doliber, Gooddale & Co., continued the “Mellin’s Food” business on Central Wharf.

The legal notices announcing  these changes, all dated August 1, 1883, appeared in the August 8, 1883 edition of the “Bost0n Evening Transcript.”

The breakup was certainly amicable as Metcalf went on to articulate his best wishes to Doliber and Goodale in the same edition of the “Evening Transcript.”

I take this opportunity to give public expression to my good wishes for the success and prosperity of the new firm of DOLIBER, GOODALE & CO.

Of Mr. Doliber it is sufficient to say that he has been my business associate for over twenty years. Mr. Goodale has been with us for the past twelve years, and has had charge of our Pharmaceutical Laboratory. The Mellin’s Food business has received Mr. Doliber’s personal attention since its inception; and since the establishment of our Mellin’s Food Department at 41 Central Wharf in January, 1882, it has been in his entire charge, with Mr. Goodale as Superintendent. Of the merits of Mellin’s Food it is needless for me to speak. It has far exceeded my most sanguine hopes in winning the confidence of the community. I cordially commend the new firm to the favor of the trade, the medical profession and the public.

Within two years , the company added two more buildings to their Central Wharf facilities as evidenced by their advertisement that appeared in Boston’s 1885 directory.

Not long after, they would add a fifth (No. 44) as well.

Ultimately in 1888 Doliber, Goodale & Co. incorporated with both the 1889 and 1890 Boston directories naming Goodale, president and Doliber, treasurer. Then in 1892, with Goodale apparently having left the firm, Doliber was listed as both president and treasurer; titles he would hold until his death in 1912.

Closely aligned with Mellin’s Food, it’s no surprise that on May 16, 1898 the company changed its name to the “Mellin’s Food Company of North America.” The legal notice announcing the change appeared in the May 21, 1898 edition of the “Boston Evening Transcript.”

By this time, in addition to their Central Wharf manufacturing facilities, the company had established corporate offices at 291 Atlantic Avenue in Boston that would later move to 177 State Street.

Much of Mellin’s Food’s”  success during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s is attributed to Doliber’s approach to advertising, an approach described like this in the July, 1905 edition of “Success Magazine:”

Today Mellin’s Food is one of the most extensively advertised products in the world. It uses pages in all leading magazines, and it stands together with Mennen’s Talcom Powder, the Douglas Shoe, and the Eastman Kodak as a living proof of the value of advertising as connected with the use of photographic faces. The Mellin’s Food characteristic advertisement, as you undoubtedly know very well indeed, is to show a photograph of a real child which has been brought up on Mellin’s Food, and to give its name generally with a testimonial letter from the mother and the catchy phrase, “We are advertised by our loving friends.”

This example appeared in the April, 1903 edition of a magazine called “Country Life in America.”

An April 1, 1925 Topeka, Kansas newspaper called “Rural Trade,” described the predictable effect the advertising had on their targeted audience of young mothers.

To mothers the testimonials of other mothers published in the Mellin’s Food advertisements have a convincing appeal. The pictures of healthy little tots and the words, “Mellin’s Food Did It,” start more than one troubled mother to the store to buy this widely used food for children. It is advertising that establishes confidence at the first reading.

To dealers who handle Mellin’s Food this advertising has an untold value. It may be safely considered the basis of at least 75 percent of the Mellin’s Food sales.

The company’s Central Wharf facilities remained listed in the Boston directories up through the late 1940’s and their newspaper advertisements, though not as abundant, did continue up through 1949. This advertisement that continued to exhibit their Central Wharf facilities appeared in the June 14, 1949 edition of the “Berkshire Eagle”

It was also in the late 1940’s that the company, possibly in an effort to re-invent themselves,  introduced “Mellin’s Food Energy Tablets.” This August 10, 1949 ad in the “Berkshire Eagle” touted them:

For New, Quick Relief from Stomach Distress, try these effective MELLIN’S FOOD ENERGY TABLETS, Eat like candy as often as required.

After the initial round of advertisements the tablets were never advertised again so apparently they were a short-lived experiment.

By 1953, the Mellin Food Company of North America was no longer listed in the Boston Directory however drug store price lists published in U.S. newspapers sporadically featured Mellin’s Food up through the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. In fact, as late as April 16, 1964 it was included, along with other baby foods in an advertisement for a local drug store named  Carney’s published in the “Tipton (Indiana) Daily Tribune.”.

In addition, between 1955 and 1962 the Mellin name surfaced as a weight gain product.” This advertisement, found in the July 14, 1955 edition of the “Chicago Tribune” now claimed Mellins Food was beneficial to adults as well as children. It read in part:

Mellin’s Food Milk Modifier helps men, women, children and babies quickly and steadily gain in weight. It’s amazing how many millions of folks Mellin’s Food has helped to put on pounds of firm flesh and improve their strength and attractivenesss. For adults, two level teaspoons of Mellin’s Food mixed in a glass of milk, makes a delicious and inexpensive drink…You can easily gain pounds in days.

Over the years I’ve found two  bottles associated with Mellin’s Food. The first is mouth blown and includes the  company name of Doliber, Goodale & Co., Boston, embossed on the front. As a result it was blown sometime prior to the 1898 name change to the Mellin’s Food Co. of North America, likely sometime in the 1880’s up through the mid-1890’s, but no later than 1898. Its size and shape matches the labeled bottle exhibited in this 1884 advertisement found in the August 30, 1884 edition of a publication called “Weekly Drug News and Prices.”

The second is machine-made and embossed “Mellin’s Food Co., Boston, U.S., Small Size.” It sports a screw top and was likely made in the 1920’s or 1930’s.

On a final note: The Mellin’s Food Quotation: “We are best advertised by our loving friends,” was featured in the following “Letter to the Editor,” of a publication called “Printer’s Ink.”

Dr. S. Pitcher’s / Chas. H. Fletcher’s Castoria

Castoria was a  patent medicine and later over-the-counter drug that hit the market in 1868. A version of it is still sold to this day. Originally called Pitcher’s Castoria, its name later morphed into Fletcher’s Castoria around the turn of the century. Typically marketed as a child’s laxative, for years it was heavily advertised with the phrase “Children Cry for Fletcher’s Castoria.”

It’s story begins with  a man named Dr. Samuel Pitcher.

An encapsulated version of Pitcher’s life up to the point where he introduced Castoria to the public, was summarized in the August 10, 1899 edition of the “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record.”

Dr. Samuel Pitcher, the originator of “Castoria was born in the town of Hyannis on October 23, 1824… Dr. Pitcher, while still quite young, entered upon the study of medicine at the College of Medicine of Philadelphia, finally graduating from the Harvard Medical School. He then entered upon the practice of medicine and about the year 1847 began the various experiments, extending over a period of twenty years, which eventually resulted in the perfection of the formula of Castoria, which he then proceeded to introduce to the public.

Pitcher obtained a patent (No. 77,758) for his formula on May, 12 1868, not specially calling it “Castoria,” but simply referencing  it as an “Improved Medicine.” The following is an image of the patent’s introductory heading, courtesy of googleapis.com.

The patent goes on to say in part:

Be it known that I, Samuel Pitcher, of Barnstable, and State of Massachusetts, have invented a new and useful Composition, to be employed as a cathartic, or substitute for castor-oil, in the treatment of disease; and I do hereby declare the same to be fully described in the following specification.

The ingredients of the composition are senna-leaves, bicarbonate of soda, extract of taraxicum, essence of wintergreen and sugar.

To make the composition, take twenty pounds of senna-leaves, two ounces of bicarbonate of soda, five pounds of essence of wintergreen, one pound of extract of taraxicum, fifty pounds of sugar, and ten gallons of water…

According to a January 7, 1897 story in the “Pharmaceutical Record,”shortly after obtaining the patent, Pitcher transferred his interest in the medicine to several persons who formed the co-partnership of Samuel Pitcher & Co.

As early as 1868 Samuel Pitcher & Co. was manufacturing the “Improved Medicine” in Boston, Massachusetts under the name “Castoria.” The company was listed in the  Boston city directories  between 1869 and 1870 during which time they used two addresses; 71 Cornhill and 25-29 Brattle.

Their earliest newspaper advertisements found in several Fall, 1868 editions of the “New England Farmer,” touted Castoria as:


The advertisements went on to articulate the medicine’s sales pitch.

Probably no greater general want exists for a harmless yet effectual purgative. The millions of pills annually used in spite of the many objectionable features pertaining to them, and so often felt by the sick, show conclusively that a simple cathartic, adapted to all needs and ages, is really required.

CASTORIA is the prepared prescription of an old Physician, and is simply a well-known purgative, so combined as to render it perfectly palatable, and still retain its laxative properties. Preserved without alcohol, it may be given with perfect safety to the youngest child or most delicate female whenever a cathartic is required, and having all the desirable qualities of Castor Oil without its nauseous taste, it is the mildest yet most effectual Family Medicine offered to the public.

Unlike pills, it is not liable to gripe or its use to be followed by constipation. By gently yet surely curing Costiveness, it prevents attacks of Piles, and for Dyspepsia, Indigestion, Sick Headache Liver and Billous Complaints , and especially for disorders of the Stomach and Bowels in Children, Castoria is a safe, pleasant and effectual remedy. One trial will convince you of its desirable qualities, and its cost is no more than for the cheap physics which flood the market.

Prepared by Dr. S, PITCHER & CO., 29 Brattle St., Boston, Mass. For sale by all Druggists and Dealers. Price 25 cents per bottle.

The 1897 “Pharmaceutical Era” story went on to say that Samuel Pitcher & Co. ultimately incorporated as the Pitcher’s Castoria Manufacturing Company. The company’s certificate of organization, dated March 4, 1870, was  referenced in a court case entitled “Centaur Co. vs. Heinsfurter,” a summary of which was found in the “Federal Reporter, Volume 84, Cases Argued and Determined In the Circuit Courts of Appeals and District Courts of the United States, February – March, 1898.”  The certificate  described the new company as:

a corporation established at Boston, in said commonwealth (Mass) for the purpose of manufacturing Castoria.

Newspaper advertisements published during this time indicate that the corporation continued to use the Brattle Street address as evidenced by this June 29, 1871 advertisement published in the “Fall River (Mass) Daily Evening News”

The court records go on to say that two years later, on January 22, 1872, the corporation  sold the right to manufacture and sell “Castoria” to Joseph B. Rose, who then made the following assignment to Demas Barnes:

The exclusive right to use the name of the said Samuel Pitcher in connection with the manufacture and sale of the said patent medicine, named Castoria.

Barnes had been in the patent medicine business for many years making his fortune with products that included among others “S. T. Drake’s Plantation Bitters.” Later he served in Congress and was publisher of a Brooklyn newspaper called “The Argus.”

So, as the dust settled, Demas Barnes quietly owned the rights to the name “Pitcher’s Castoria” while Rose, acting as Barnes’ agent, was responsible for the manufacture and sale of the medicine.

Rose partnered with Charles H. Fletcher, who was a former employee of Demas Barnes, and they  moved the manufacture of Castoria to New York City under the company name of J. B. Rose & Co.

NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directories in the early 1870’s named both Rose and Fletcher as partners and listed the company’s address at 53 Broadway in lower Manhattan. Later, likely sometime in 1876, the company moved to 46 Dey Street, also in lower Manhattan.

As early as May, 1872, J. B. Rose & Co. newspaper advertisements for Pitcher’s Castoria began appearing in New York City newspapers. By the end of the year the advertisements had spread to New England and several mid-west states as well.

It was also during 1872 when, what would eventually become the company’s well-known slogan: “Children Cry For Pitcher’s Castoria,” began appearing in their advertisements.  One of the earliest I can find was published in the September 13, 1872 edition of The “Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”

During this time, in addition to Castoria the company also advertised another proprietary product called Centaur Liniment. According to an August 16, 1872 “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” advertisement:


Some of the ingredients of this Liniment are equally efficacious for MAN and BEAST, HENCE THE NAME OF “CENTAUR,” which was half horse and half man.

Centaur Liniment – White Wrapper – is for Family use. The Centaur Liniment – Yellow Wrapper – is for Horses and Animals. It will cure SPAVIN, STRAINS, SCRATCHES, SWEENY, etc., and is bound to astonish the world.

Why will you suffer or lose the use of a valuable animal, when you can get Centaur Liniment, a certain speedy and effective cure, for 50 cents and one dollar per bottle…

J. B. ROSE & CO., Proprietors, 53 Broadway, New York

Sometime in the mid to late 1870’s Rose’s involvement with the business ended after which Fletcher connected with the nephew of Demas Barnes, Demas Barnes Dewey, and established  the Centaur Company.  Still located at 46 Dey Street, the 1879 NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory listed Centaur with a capital of $25,000 and  named Dewey, president and Fletcher, Secretary.

Throughout much of the 1880’s Pitcher’s Castoria continued to be manufactured and sold by  the Centaur Company  with the NYC directories always naming Demas Dewy as president and Fletcher as secretary. During this time the company listed lower Manhattan addresses of 46 Dey Street (1879-1880); 182 Fulton Street (1882-1887) and 77  Murray Street (1888-1890).

This October 23, 1884 advertisement featuring both Castoria and Centaur Liniment exhibited the company’s Fulton Street address. It was published in the Junction City (Kansas)Tribune.

Centaur’s corporate picture ultimately changed in the late 1880’s when both Demas Barnes and  Demas Dewey passed away; Barnes in May, 1888 and Dewey in December, 1889,  leaving Fletcher in complete control of Pitcher’s Castoria. By 1890 the  NYC Copartnership and Corporation Directory named him as the Centaur Company’s president, a title he would hold until his death in 1922.

On a side note: While Fletcher was now running the business, its apparent that the Barnes family continued to hold a healthy financial interest in the Centaur Company. When Demas Barnes died in 1888, his share’s of Centaur Company stock were inherited by his daughter, Cora F. Barnes. Upon her death in 1914, an August 8, 1914 story in the “New York Tribune” announced that the accumulation of profits and dividends on that stock was appraised at $4,952,195.

As Fletcher gained control of the company’s management he was faced with competition from an increasing number of companies attempting to profit from Castoria’s success. Court records from a Canadian case, “The American Druggists Syndicate v. The Centaur Co.,” dated October 18, 1920, succinctly summarized the situation faced by Fletcher.

In 1868 one Dr. Pitcher invented a medicine compounded of various ingredients according to formula for which he obtained a patent for in the United States which expired in the year 1885. This medicine in the United States was commonly called “Castoria,” though it was not so christened by the inventor in his patent…

At the expiration of the life of the patent of the thing “Castoria,” the public were at perfect liberty to compound the substance and sell it under that name in the United States. During all the life of the patent there is one thing certain, that substance was sold under no other name than “Castoria,” and the substance was known to the public as “Castoria.”

When the patent expired, the record shows that manufacturers or dealers to the number of 15 or 18, in the United States, commenced the manufacture and sale of the substance. There was on the market (and I paraphrase the testimony) “Smith’s Castoria” and there was “Brown’s Castoria” and there were many others. The proof will show that possibly in the composition or compounding by these different manufacturers, there was a slight difference, but in all cases the substances were sold as “Castoria.”

While these companies were legally using the word “Castoria,” many were selling it in packaging almost identical to Fletcher’s. In an effort to differentiate his product from the counterfeits, sometime in the early 1890’s Fletcher added his signature to Castoria’s outside wrapper. This had certainly occurred by 1892 when Fletcher ran this advertisement, that appeared more like a news story in newspapers throughout much of the country.

Beware of Imposition

We desire to inform the public that Dr. Pitcher’s Castoria is made and put up in the laboratory of the Centaur Company, New York, in but one size bottle, and on the outside wrapper the formula is printed and the Fac Simile signature of “Charles H. Fletcher, New York.” No other preparation offered as Castoria is genuine. To counterfeit or imitate either in the name or signature is a criminal offense. Dr. Pitcher’s Castoria has become a valuable standard family medicine with the endorsement of some of the best physicians in America. Don’t allow anyone to sell you anything else on the plea or promise that it is “just as good,” and will answer every purpose, etc., etc. Castoria is sold by every respectable druggist and dealers in medicine.

Do not be deceived when you buy it, but look well at the wrapper and see if it has the signature of Chas. H. Fletcher, New York. No other can be genuine. Castoria without this signature is a base fraud 

In 1897 he even ran an advertisement that included a letter of endorsement from Dr. Samuel Pitcher, who declared that the labeled bottle bearing Fletcher’s signature, was in fact the original Pitcher’s Castoria, “the kind you have always bought.”

Ultimately Fletcher filed a trademark application for his signature on May 17, 1905 and it was approved and published in the  Official Gazette of the U. S. Patent Office on September 19, 1905.

Undeterred the counterfeits continued both before and after the signature was trademarked and Fletcher vigorously fought them all. One of many such cases that illustrate what Fletcher was up against was summarized in the  June, 1904 edition of the “Midland Druggist.”

St. Louis Mo., May 14. In the case of the Centaur Company, of New York City, against the Palestine Drug Co. and John Beck, of this city, in the United States  Circuit Court, an injunction was issued this morning by Judge Adams restraining the defendant’s company from selling Castoria in a wrapper or label heretofore used by it and which is declared to be an imitation of the Centaur Company’s wrapper. The enjoined label is similar to that of the Centaur Company, except where the signature of Chas. H. Fletcher appears on the genuine, the defendant has inserted that of “Alph Arthur,” who is said to be a fictitious person.

With both Fletcher’s advertising and packaging stressing his signature, it wasn’t long before “Fletcher’s Castoria” began to slowly replace “Pitcher’s Castoria” in advertisements and  drug store price lists. As early as the mid 1890’s Fletcher  himself was using both terms interchangeably in his famous slogan as evidenced by the following two newspaper advertisements that both bear Fletcher’s signature. The first, “Children Cry for Fletcher’s Castoria,” appeared in the July 22, 1893 edition of the Dresden (Kansas) Star.

The second, still using the phrase”Children Cry for Pitcher’s Castoria,” appeared two years later in the September 4, 1895 edition of the New Bern (N. C.) “Daily journal.”

That being said, it wasn’t until the early 1900’s that advertised references to Pitcher’s Castoria began to drop off significantly and the product became more widely known as Fletcher’s Castoria.

Whether you called it Pitcher’s or Fletcher’s by the early 1890’s newspaper advertisements suggest that Castoria had become Centaur’s hallmark product. By then advertisements referencing their liniments had become scarce and on the occasion when they were  mentioned appeared more as an afterthought, as evidenced by this February 1, 1891 ad in the Nashville (Tenn) Banner.

Though no longer actively promoted by Centaur, their liniments did continue to sporadically appear in advertised drug store price lists up through the late teens after which they disappear completely. This all suggests  that the product was discontinued sometime prior to 1920..

On the other hand sales of Castoria were growing and a February 15, 1923 feature on the Centaur Company included in a publication called “Printers Ink” put some numbers to this growth.

The product is put up in bottles of one size only. Shipments over a period of years compare as follows: 1910, 11,688,884 bottles; 1914, 12,657744 bottles; 1918, 18,701,136 bottles; 1922, 20,778,192 bottles.

The output has thus shown a substantial growth from 11,688,884 bottles in 1910 to 20,778,192 bottles in 1922, an increase of over 80 per cent. Sales have shown exceptional stability during periods when general business has been unsettled.

Thanks to Castoria’s growth, by 1911 the Centaur Company had expanded to the point where they were operating out of four separate locations in lower Manhattan. At that point it was announced they were consolidating the business in a new eight-story building at 250 West Broadway. A rendering of their new quarters was included in the November 26, 1911 edition of “The New York Sun.”

The move, which occurred sometime in 1912, was featured that year in the September edition of the “American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record”

The Centaur Company, manufacturers of Castoria and the Centaur Liniment, recently moved into their new quarters at 248 and 250 West Broadway, New York. The building, eight stories tall, measuring 50 x 100 feet, was erected in accordance with the plans drawn by Mr. Fletcher, president of the Centaur Company. It contains the very latest and most improved devices for the manufacture, packing, shipping and advertising of the specialties made by this company. The move which was necessitated by the continued growth of the business enables the company to get under one roof all the different departments of their business, which heretofore occupied four different buildings – two on Murray Street and two on Washington Street. Among the most interesting features of the new building are the elaborately equipped manufacturing laboratories and the complete system of carriers, chutes and elevators, which reduce to the minimum the labor of handling the goods in the course of their preparation and shipment….

Less than 10 years later the company was forced to move again, this time to an even larger building at 84 to 90  Varick Street. The announcement was included in a June 5, 1920 item published in the “New York Herald.”

Centaur Company will build a ten story factory, warehouse and offices, 175 x 64.11, to cost $450,000 in the east side of Varick St., from Grand to Watts St. Plans have been filed by Helmie & Corbett, architects.

The company began operations there sometime in 1921.

The February 15, 1923 Printer’s Ink feature credited much of this growth to a heavy dose of advertising.

Charles H. Fletcher’s Castoria has been steadily advertised for about 45 years, newspapers, posters, signs on buildings and other forms of publicity having been utilized for this purpose. Over $6,500,000 has been expended in advertising in the United States and Canada in the last 13 years, 1910 – 1922.

As the above story makes clear Fletcher’s advertising took many different avenues. Not only did they advertise on a national scale using newspapers and magazines but they also kept their name front and center on a local basis using billboards and painted signs on buildings. This photo of one such sign painted on the side of a New York City tenement is courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York.

Centaur also published what they called “The New York Almanac,” which included some general information along with a heavy dose of advertising. The following excerpt is from the 1903-1904 edition.

In addition to the general public, Centaur also targeted the retail druggist, by running ads in trade publications. This April, 1920 advertisement found in the “Pharmaceutical Record” stated, in part:

The head line CASTORIA has been before the general public for more than forty years, resulting in great profit to the retail trade….

Fletcher’s Castoria has been one of your greatest sellers, and our continued advertising will keep it at the top.

Our Candy Bags and Counter Wrappers will Help You and Save Money.

Charles Fletcher passed away in April, 1922 shortly after which management of the Centaur Company, along with a twenty five percent ownership share, was acquired by Sterling Products Inc. The acquisition, accomplished  under a newly formed corporation called Household Products, Inc.., was announced in the February 13, 1923 edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”

A syndicate headed by Hornblower & Weeks, will offer tomorrow at $34 a share 275,000 shares of the Household Products, Inc. The company has been organized with capital stock of 500,000 shares to acquire the assets and good will of the Centaur Company, which produces and sells Castoria. Of the 500,000 shares, the Sterling Products, Inc., has purchased 125,000 shares and interests identified with the company 100,000 shares…

The management of the Sterling Products Inc., which which has had a long and successful record in the manufacture and distribution of household remedies, will assume the direction of the Household Products, Inc…

Sterling manufactured Fletcher’s Castoria on a continuous basis for the next 60 plus years except for a period of approximately one year in 1943 and 1944. On May 5, 1943 Centaur ran advertisements in newspapers nationwide announcing that the entire lot of Castoria then on the market was being recalled. The advertisement read in part:

In cooperation with the United States Food and Drug Administration, the Centaur Company of Rahway, New Jersey, manufacturers of Fletcher’s Castoria warns all holders of Fletcher’s Castoria, that is wholesale druggists, retail druggists, country storekeepers and consumers to discontinue the sale and use of the article because it has been discovered that all of such Fletcher’s Castoria which has been shipped since March 1, 1943, contains a foreign ingredient which causes nausea and vomiting.

As neither consumers nor retailers can tell the difference between the packages made before March 1st and those produced thereafter, it is necessary to withdraw and recover all Fletcher’s Castoria outstanding…

The advertisement in its entirety is presented below.

A month later another advertisement, this one entitled “What Happened to Fletcher’s Castoria,” provided some additional information.

After seven weeks of intensive work, laboratory researchers have discovered  the reason why certain batches of Fletcher’s Castoria caused nausea…

…The sugar content of Fletcher’s Castoria was reduced to conserve sugar under war time conditions. A year ago, Castoria was made with this reduced sugar content and was up to standard in every respect. This year, in March we again started production with reduced sugar.

However, at that time a chemical change – harmless in itself –  occurred in the characteristics of the water used in making Castoria. But this change, in combination with the reduced sugar, increased the degree and rate of normal fermentation. The more rapid fermentation retarded normal reoxidation during the aging process, resulting in a product which caused nausea.

Fletcher’s Castoria made it back to the market place in June, 1944, as evidenced by this June 15th story in the “Brooklyn Citizen.”

After an absence of more than a year, Fletcher’s Castoria has been returned to the market, Harold B. Thomas, Vice President of Sterling Drugs, Inc. in charge of the Centaur Company Division which manufactures the product, today announced.

“Most elaborate scientific controls to safeguard proprietary preparation” have been devised, consisting of 138 separate tests of ingredients and products and including chemical, biological, bacteriological and potency standardization testing he stated.

The public, he asserted can immediately distinguish the new package from the old by a quality control number appearing on the label of each new bottle, plainly visible through a window in the carton. Further identification is given the new carton by use of a distinctive green band.

The Sterling Drug Company continued to manufacture and sell Fletcher’s Castoria until 1984 when they sold the rights to the Mentholatum Company. The sale was reported in the “Buffalo News” on September 19, 1984.

The Mentholatum Co., Inc., 1360 Niagara St., has agreed to buy the trademark rights and inventories of 11 over-the-counter medicines owned by Sterling Drug Inc., New York City.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed. The products include Fletcher’s Castoria children’s laxative, Cope pain reliever, Astring-o-sol mouthwash, Medi-Quik first aid spray, Caroid tooth powder, Creamalin antacid tablets, Dr. Caldwell’s laxative, Mucilosee laxative, Neucurtasal salt substitute and Fizrin analgesic-antacid.

A spokesman said Sterling has agreed to continue manufacturing the products for Mentholatum for two years…

Another story, this one in the Decatur, Illinois “Herald and Review” shed a little more light on the sale

Liquidation of the product lines, which included Fletcher’s Castoria children’s laxative and Cope pain reliever, was an effort to streamline Sterling’s marketing strategies, said Norma Walter, the company’s assistant director of communication. The firm, she said, chose to concentrate its marketing efforts on its more popular products like Bayer aspirin and Panadol pain reliever…

“We want to concentrate on markets that have the best long-term potential for us.”

A product called Fletcher’s Laxative is still made to this day by the Mentholatum Company, Orchard Park, N.Y.

According to the company’s web site it continues to contain the senna mentioned in Pitcher’s original 1867 patent application:

Fletcher’s Laxative for children works naturally to provide safe, gentle and effective relief from occasional constipation. The natural root beer flavor of the Senna pod concentrate makes Fletcher’s easy to administer. It works as fast as 6 hours. Suitable for children ages 2 and up. Trusted since 1871.

The Manhattan building occupied by the Centaur Company from 1912 to 1921 at 248-250 West Broadway remains to this day. Today’s version, courtesy of “Google Maps,” appears almost identical to the 1911 rendering found in the “New York Sun.”

In addition, the ten story building currently located at 90 Varick Street appears to be the  same one occupied by Centaur beginning in 1921.

All told, I’ve found three Castoria bottles. Each has a double ring finish with a rounded upper ring  and a tapered collar serving as the lower one. The bottles are all identically shaped and contain exactly two ounces. Each is described below along with dating information that is based on a document entitled “Pitcher’s and Fletcher’s Castoria, An Uncommon Study of Common Bottles,” by Bill Lockhart, Beau Schreiver, Carol Seer and Bill Lindsey with contributions by Joe Widman. It can be found on the web site of the Society of Historical Archeology, a link to which is presented below.


The first and oldest is blown in a mold with a tooled finish. One side panel is embossed “DR. S. PITCHER’S,” the other, “CASTORIA.”

The base is embossed “A 5,” which suggests two possible alternatives. Either it was  made by the American Bottle Co. during 1905-1906 or it was made in the early 1900’s in one of three batch tanks of the Chantey Glass Co. Either way it most likely dates to the first decade of the 20th Century.

The second is machine made and embossed with Chas. H. Fletcher’s signature on one side panel and “CASTORIA” on the other.

Embossed with a solitary “C” on the base, it was likely made by the Charleston, West Virginia plant of the  Owens Bottle Machine  Co. sometime between 1912 and 1917,  prior to the reorganization that created the Owens Bottle Co.

The third also exhibits Chas. H. Fletcher’s signature on one side panel and “CASTORIA” on the other, while the base is embossed with a circled “P” and the number 16. The circled “P” on a cork finished bottle indicates it was likely made in the 1932 to 1935 time frame.

Munro, Dalwhinnie, Scotland, Square Bottle Whisky

Munro’s Square Bottle Whisky was blended and bottled at Scotland’s Dalwhinnie Distillery beginning sometime in the early 1920’s. It certainly made its way across the Atlantic during National Prohibition and also may have been available legally for a short time after its repeal.

Its story however begins  just before the turn of the century with the establishment of the Strathspey Distillery Company. The announcement of the company’s incorporation appeared in the January 27, 1897 edition of the “Aberdeen Weekly Journal and General Advertiser.”

JOINT STOCK COMPANIES IN SCOTLAND.- Seven new joint stock companies were registered in Scotland this week… The new companies include – The Strathspey Distillery Company , Limited, for the purpose of carrying out the business of distillers, maltsters and wine and spirits merchants with a capital of £12,000 in £5 shares.

Another story in the same newspaper described the site selected for the company’s  new distillery like this:

Further testimony to the continued briskness in the Highland whisky trade is found in the fact that another distillery is to be erected in the Badenach district of Upper Speyside, the first in that quarter having been opened only two or three weeks ago at Kinggussie. The one now contracted for is to be situated close to the Dalwhinnie Station, one of the highest points on the Highland Railway, and only a short distance from the summit-level. It will be the highest in Scotland, in point of elevation, and also the furthest inland, being almost equidistant from sea to sea. The water from which the whisky will be made rises at an elevation of about 3,000 feet above sea level, and after tumbling down various defiles will enter the mash tubs at a height of about 2,000 feet above sea level. The burn is called Allt-na-Slochd. There is no arable land within miles of it, nor a single inhabited house from its source to the junction with the river Truim, some miles above its confluence with the Spey. With ample stretches of peat moss all-round the works, and the railway siding close at hand, the site could hardly be excelled. The buildings are to be of a substantial character to stand the rigors of this high altitude.

In connection with the distillery are offices, and manager and workmen’s houses of a neat and attractive character. It is to be called the Strathspey Distillery, and the cost will amount to about £10,000.

In financial trouble from the start, less than two years later the October 26, 1898 “Aberdeen Weekly Journal and General Advertiser” announced the distillery had been sold.

Mr. A. P. Blyth, Craighall, Bonnington, managing director of Messrs John Somerville & Co., Limited, distillers, Leith, has purchased for his son the Strathspey Distillery, Dalwhinnie, Inverness-shire. The name of the firm will be A. P. Blyth & Son…

Renamed “Dalwhinnie, the distillery’s financial woes apparently continued and in 1901 this March 21st “Liverpool Mercury” story announced that the business was in receivership.

The Great Scottish Distillery Failure – A meeting of the creditors of A. P. Blyth & Son, distillers, Dalwhinnie Distillery, Inverness-shire, was held at Edinburgh, yesterday, when it was stated that the liabilities amounted to about £80,000. The assets so far had not been definitely ascertained, but were understood to be large. The firm is stated to have been affected by the recent depression in the Scottish whisky trade, and the banks are creditors for large amounts. Mr. C. J. Munro, C. A., Edinburgh, was appointed trustee.

Later that year, the distillery was offered for sale as evidenced by this notice published in the June 15, 1901 edition of the “Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser.”


There will be sold by PUBLIC ROUP, at Dowell’s Rooms, No. 18 George Street, Edinborough, on Wednesday, 26th June, 1901, at half past two o’clock, afternoon:

DALWHINNIE DISTILLERY, situated in Glentruim, and near Dalwhinnie, in the County of Inverness, and WHOLE PLANT thereof, and also a right (practically exclusive) to take peats from the adjoining Peat Moss, extending  to 150 acres or thereby…

The Distillery has at present a working capacity of fully 120,000 gallons per annum, and has been so constructed that at a comparatively small cost this production could be nearly doubled…

The Ground consists of 10 acres held under perpetual fen, the small Fen-duty being £100. The extent of the ground is ample for the present or prospective requirements of the Distillery.  UPSET PRICE  £9,000

Apparently there were no takers and the distillery was “re-exposed for sale” several times with the price continually dropping until on May 21, 1904 the upset price listed in the “Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser” was £2,000. Four months later, the September 30, 1904 edition of the “Perthshire Advertiser.” announced  that the distillery ultimately sold for “some £1,500.”

The sale was referenced in this September 30, 1904 edition of “The (London) Guardian.”

A correspondent says a sensation has been caused in the Scott whisky trade by the announcement that the Dalwhinnie Distillery has been purchased by the Cook & Bernheimer Company of New York, one of the largest and most enterprising of the American Distilling companies… The object of the Cook and Bernheimer Company is apparently to secure the large and increasing trade in Scotch whisky which is being done in America.

Cook & Bernheimer operated the Dalwhinnie Distillery under the name of their U.K. subsidiary, James Munro & Son. Less than three months after the purchase, a Munro blend named “Long & Short” had reached the United States as evidenced by this December 15, 1904 advertisement in the “New York Sun.” The ad named Cook & Bernheimer as the brand’s sole agent in the U. S.

Around the same time Cook & Bernheimer was also marketing a domestic rye called “Mount Vernon.” It was put up in a square bottle with a bulging neck that appears to match exactly our subject  bottle.

That being said,  the square bottle was a unique means of distinguishing “Mount Vernon” Rye from other brands of rye so as far as I can tell Cook & Bernheimer did not market “Long & Short” in the same shaped bottle. This is further supported by a a 1907 advertisement in “Osborn’s Annual Guide to Agencies, Hand Book of Useful Information and Club List” that specifically shows “Long & Short” in a cylindrical bottle.

In the late teens, on the eve of National Prohibition, the Dalwhinnie Distillery was sold to Macdonald, Greenlees & Williams of Leith, who maintained the James Murno & Son name.

It was apparently under MacDonald Greenlees & Williams that Cook & Bernheimer’s square bottle was resurrected, this time for a blend of the Munro scotch and, in 1921, patents  for “Munro’s Square Bottle Scotch Whisky” we’re applied for in both New Zealand (August 1921)

and Canada (September 1921)

Legally available in other parts of the world, a December 20,1926 “New York Daily News” story, published under the headline “RUM DELUGE 100,000 CASES A WEEK FLOWS INTO CITY TO BRIGHTEN YULE,  made it clear that the Scotch was also making its way into the United States, albeit illegally. A photo accompanying the story showed an array of smuggled brands that included a “Munro’s Square Bottle Scotch Whisky.” It’s right up front in the middle.

The caption under the photo read:

“White Horse,” “Hennessy,” “Munro’s” – O boy! Don’t even the names make you thirsty?  Here’s a prime exhibit of the kind of stuff that is being  landed in New York, despite the efforts of our enforcement machinery to keep it out.

In case you’re interested the story also included this table listing the cost of a bootlegged  bottle of “Munro’s Square Scotch” at $8.00.

At the end of Prohibition a newly formed U. S. corporation called the Epicure Wine $ Spirits Company named themselves as Munro & Sons’ distributor in the United States. This December 30, 1933 Epicure advertisement in the Buffalo News touted “Square Bottle” along with another Munro blend, “King of Kings.” The ad reads in part:

Orders will be accepted from the trade for shipment of the above to States where and when the sale of liquor is legal, subject to import quotas.

Shortly afterwards the brands disappear from U S newspaper advertisements, certainly the result of a fire that, according to scotlandwhisky.com, closed the distillery for several years. The fire was reported in the February 3, 1934 edition of the “Perthshire Advertiser.”

Perth Fire Brigade made a thrilling dash across the Grampians on Thursday morning to an outbreak at Dalwhinnie Distillery, which is situated five miles north of the Perthshire-Inverness boundary.

Apparently the fire originated in the boiler room and spread so quickly that soon the whisky in the still-room was ablaze. A full granary separated the fire from the bond room, and there was a danger that the flames might reach the £1,500,000 worth of whisky casks.

Inverness Fire Guard refused to answer the call on account of the distance and at seven o’clock a request for aid was made to Perth. Firemaster W. J. Paterson summoned his men, and one and three quarters hours later they were at the scene of the fire 58 miles from Perth. They soon had the flames in subjection, but the total damage to buildings and whisky amounts to about £12,000. The boiler-house, mill-room, malt deposit, still-house, malt mill and wash-house were all destroyed and about 3,000 gallons of whisky were lost.

Whether any “Square Bottle Scotch” made it legally to the United States prior to the fire is not clear, but if it did it certainly wasn’t in large quantities.

According to scotlandwhisky.com  the distillery reopened in 1938 after a four year closure, then, shortly afterwards was closed again as a result of war time restrictions.

Now part of Diageo, the distillery is still active to this day. More on the history of the Dalwhinnie Distillery can be found at:      http://scotlandwhisky.com/distilleries/dalwhinnie

The bottle I found is square with a bulbous neck, a shape that dates back to the Cook & Bernheimer days. Machine made its embossing includes the embossed Munro blend called “Square Bottle Whisky,” dating it between 1921 and 1934. It likely  arrived in the U. S. illegally during prohibition.


Dixon & Carson, 41 Walker St., N. Y.

James Dixon & John Carson were partners in a mid-19th Century New York City soda water manufacturing and bottling business located in the area now called Tribeca (Triangle Below Canal Street) in Lower Manhattan. .

According to 1870 census records John Carson was born in Ireland, circa 1814. At some point he immigrated to the United States and settled in New York City where directories first list him in 1852 with the occupation of “soda water,” and an address of 41 Barclay Street. Then sometime in the mid-1850’s he moved to 41 Walker Street and was joined by James Dixon, forming a partnership that initially appeared in the 1856 directory.

The business remained at 41 Walker Street until 1865 or 1866 at which time the company apparently relocated down the street to 28 Walker Street where they remained through 1869.

Census records in 1870 list Carson’s occupation as a  “Retired Dealer in Soda Water,” likely signaling the end of the business.

The bottle I found is a small mouth blown pony with an applied blob finish. Its embossing includes the 41 Walker Street address dating it between 1856 and 1866 when the business was located at that address.

ON A FINAL NOTE – The building located  at 41 Walker Street today does not date back to the time of the Dixon & Carson business. In fact it was likely construction of the present building there, in 1867, that forced Dixon & Carson’s 1866 move to 28 Walker Street. More on the history of 41 Walker Street can be found on the following web site.



W. G. Geety, Inc. Apothecary, Broadway and 138th St., New York


Wallace Gillespie Geety was a long time New York City pharmacist and chemist who operated drug stores in Upper Manhattan for well over 60 years.

Born in 1873, sometime in his teens he started his career, not in New York, but as a drug clerk in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In 1892, a story in the August 25th edition of the “Harrisburg Daily Independent” announced that he was leaving Harrisburg to attend the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy.

Wallace Geety, of Forney & Knouse’s drug store, will leave for Philadelphia tomorrow to attend the college of pharmacy in the Quaker City.

Graduating in 1894, according to the May edition of “The American Journal of Pharmacy” the subject of his graduate thesis was “Mistura Glycyrrhizae Composita.”

“King’s American Dispensatory,” published in 1908, described  Mistura Glycyrrhizae Composita as a “compound licorice mixture” that included among other things powdered extract of licorice, powdered gum arabic, camphorated tincture of opium and tincture of bloodroot. “King’s American Dispensatory” went on to say that it

forms an excellent cough mixture, and may be used in catarrhal affections after the subsidence  of the more active symptoms, and when expectoration is present.

Whether Geety simply studied the preparation or actually cococted it during his college years is unclear.

All that aside, after graduation Geety relocated to New York City where Volume 31 of the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy’s Alumni Report (1894-1895) announced:

Wallace G. Geety, “94” is now with F. K. James, 700 Eighth Avenue, New York City.

As late as 1897, the New York City directories listed him as a clerk, suggesting he was still employed at James’ pharmacy at that point. Shortly after however he apparently left James to start his own drug store, and the following year, in 1898, he was initially listed as a druggist with an address of 2090 Eighth Avenue, at the corner of 113th Street.

Geety remained in business on Eighth Avenue until 1910 when the March 28th edition of “The American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record” announced that he had sold the drug store to his previous employer, F. K. James.

The F. K. James Company has succeeded to the business of the store at 113th Street and Eighth Avenue, hitherto conducted by W. G. Geety.

Not long afterwards, Geety formed W. G .Geety, Inc. and opened a store at 3399 Broadway, on the corner of 138th Street. The incorporation notice was published under the heading “New Corporations,” in the October 12, 1912 edition of a publication called “N.A.R.D. (National Association of Retail Druggists) Notes.”

W. G. Geety, Inc., Manhattan, N.Y., $25,000.

As early as 1914 (I don’t have access to 1913) the company was listed in New York City’s Copartnership and Corporation Directory with Wallace G. Geety named as president, and Charles M. Lalor and Edward A. Kelly, named as vice president and secretary respectively. Not simply a retail druggist, Geety also patented at least one new medication, as evidenced by this 1915 patent application for an “Alkaline Antiseptic and Non-Toxic Prophylactic Preparation.’

Sometime in the early 1920’s W. G. Getty, Inc. began listing what was likely a second drug store, at 4181 Broadway. Both locations continued to be listed in the Manhattan telephone book up through 1946 after which  the 3399 Broadway location was dropped. The location at 4181 Broadway continued to be listed up through at least 1960 and possibly longer.

The bottle I found is a small medicine, 5-1/4 inches tall, that exhibits the Broadway and 138th Street location (3399 Broadway). Mouth blown it almost certainly dates to the first few years of the 1912 to 1946 time period that Getty operated a drug store at that address.

Today 3399 Broadway (600 West 138th St) is a 6-story residential building with a commercial store at street level.

According to streeteasy.com it was built in 1908, approximately four years before Geety opened his drug store there. As a result, the current street level store shown almost certainly housed Geety’s pharmacy at one time. In fact the bottle likely passed through the front door 100+ years ago.





American Apothecaries Co., New York – SALVITAE

The American Apothecaries Company manufactured the patent medicine “Salvitae” during the first half of the 20th Century.

The first mention of the American Apothecaries Company that I can find was in 1904 when the business incorporated in the State New York. Their incorporation notice was published in the New York Times on November 30, 1904.

American Apothecaries, New York (medicines) capital, $150,000. Directors W. F. Grier, T. F. Kelleghan, A. S Grier, New York.

The company was always located in the Long Island City/Astoria sections of New York City’s Borough of Queens. Initially located at 272 Flushing Avenue (1904 to circa 1926), later (1926 through much of the 1940’s) they would list two addresses; 299 Ely Avenue and 35-08 Astoria Avenue. I suspect, one was their office, the other their manufacturing facility.

Not long after incorporating American Apothecaries Company was advertising several different proprietary medicines to the medical profession as evidenced by this 1908 business card found in the Pharmaceutical Era’s 1908 “Drug Trade Directory.”

That being said, almost all of their advertising focused on “Salvitae,” whose purported  curative properties were described in the following 1908 advertisement found in  the “California Medical Journal.”

Gout, rheumatism, constipation, biliousness, recurrent headache, mental depression, subnormal metabolism, languor and in fact, innumerable local and general deviations from the normal state are frequently the direct effect of excrementitious materials.

Immediate and durable relief of such disturbances is best achieved  by the administration of an agent that is capable of normalizing combustion, promoting elimination and augmenting the constructive processes. Salvitae, which is an effervescent salt embracing uric-solvent, waste-dispelling, laxative and diuretic agents, is unquestionably the most potent product evolved for the relief of systemic disturbances arising from the excessive production or inadequate elimination of waste materials. Its antirheumatic, laxative, diuretic properties and stimulating action upon the excretory apparatus is unequalled.

According to another advertisement, this one found in a 1907 publication called “Dental Items of Interest,” Salvitae was of great benefit to the dental profession as well.

The deposit of serumal or salivary calculi in or about the alveoli is a common cause of Soft, Flabby, Bleeding and Receding Gums.

In conjunction with mechanical treatment, it is distinctly advantageous to administer an agent that will bring about the disintegration of these deposits and prevent their recurrence.

In as much as these deposits are, in the main, due to the systemic retention of an excess of uric acid, it is markedly wise to employ a uric-solvent and eliminant. By increasing the uric-solvent power of the blood and raising its alkalinity to a normal degree, such an agent affects the dissolution of calico concretions and precludes their reformation. Salvitae is unquestionably the most powerful uric-solvent extant. It arrests the over-production of uric acid, disintegrates uratic concretions, promotes metabolism and renders the blood normally alkaline.

Needless to say the product’s claims caught the attention of the authorities and on at least three occasions, (1908, 1919 and 1941) the product was declared mis-branded. Partial documentation from the 1919 incident follows:

7293. Misbranding of Salvitae.  U.S. v. The American Apothecaries Co. Plea of Guilty. Fine $200.

On July 17, 1919, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, acting upon a report by the Secretary of Agriculture, filed in the District Court of the United States for said district an information against the American Apothecaries Co., a corporation, Astoria, N.Y., alleging shipment by said company, in violation of the Food and Drugs Act, as amended on May 25, 1918, from the State of New York into the Island of Porto Rico, of a quantity of an article, labeled in part “Salvitae.” which was mis-branded…

…It was alleged in substance in the information that the article was misbranded for the reason that certain statements appearing on the labels of the bottles containing the article and on the wrapper around said bottles, falsely and fraudulently represented it to be effective as a treatment, remedy and cure for gout, rheumatism, Bright’s disease, Rigg’s disease, stomatitis, recession of the gums, urethritis, cystitis, gravel, inflammatory affections of the urinary passages and diseases that are produced by uric acid, inactivity of the kidneys, renal or hepatic calcull or incontinence and gingivitis, as a uric acid solvent, urinary antiseptic and diuretic and intestinal antiseptic, to fortify the system against the millions of dangerous microbes, and to restore lost health and preserve one from disease, when, in fact, it was not.

This attention from the government authorities doesn’t appear to have had much impact on business.  As early as the mid-teens, in addition to marketing Salvitae to the medical and dental professions, the company was going directly to the public as well, with the product appearing sporadically in the price lists of  drug store advertisements published in local U. S. and Canadian newspapers. This  Salvitae  mention was included in a full page “Owl Drug Company” advertisement found in the April 7, 1914 edition of the “Los Angele Evening Express.”

Around the same time the company was also extending their reach south of the border, where Salvitae was being sold with a Spanish language label. This advertisement, exhibiting the Spanish label appeared in a 1915 publication called “”Puerto Rico Illustrado.”

When the manufacture of Salvitae was discontinued is not exactly clear. A specific advertisement for its use was still appearing as late as 1951 in Binghamton New York’s  “Press & Sun.” Although the advertisement’s language was toned down quite a bit, its theme remained consistent with that of the company’s earliest ads.

By the mid 1950’s Salvitae had disappeared from drug store advertisements in U.S. newspapers, however, in Canada, it was still being sporadically listed in ads up through the mid 1960’s. According to a July 28, 1966 advertisement in the “Montreal Star,” at the time you could still buy a large bottle of Salvitae for $1.52 at the Montreal Pharmacy on St Catherine St. East.

The bottle I found is 5-3/4 inches tall and 2 inches in diameter at the base. It’s machine made and cobalt blue. Its only embossing is on the base and consists of “American Apothecaries Co. New York” embossed in circular fashion along the base perimeter. In addition, “Salvitae” is prominently embossed across the base diameter. I apologize for the lack of a photograph, but all attempts proved absolutely useless.


F. Dieterich, Agt, Richmond Hill, L. I.


The first initial ” F.” stands for Frederick Dieterich who, according to 1910 census records, arrived in the United States from Germany in 1881. By the early 1900’s he was living in New York City’s Borough of Queens where the first directory listings I can find for him were in Trow’s  1903, 1906, 1907 and 1908 business directories. He appeared under the heading: “wines, liquor and lager beer saloons,” at two locations:

– Williamsburg Rd. ( now Metropolitan Ave.) corner of Hillside Avenue, Richmond Hill and

– Hillside Avenue c. Cottage (now 131st Street), Jamaica

Hillside Avenue serves as the border between Richmond Hill and Jamaica in this section of Queens, suggesting that these two locations were very close, maybe across the street from each other.

Later, New York State’s list of liquor tax certificate holders for years ending September 30, 1909, 1911, 1914, 1915 and 1917 all include Dieterich’s address as “Junction of Hillside Avenue, Williamsburg Road and Cottage Street.” At the same time, the Queens telephone book listed Fred Dieterich with the occupation “hotel” with an address of simply “Hillside Ave.”

All this suggests that Dieterich was the proprietor of a hotel that likely included a saloon located on the border of Richmond Hill and Jamaica, Queens in the early 1900’s.

In 1920, Dieterich is listed in the Queens telephone book without an occupation, likely a victim of National Prohibition.

The bottle I found is a champagne style beer with a blob finish. It likely dates on the earlier side of the 1903 to 1920 range.






Wayne County Produce Co., Greenpoint, Long Island

The Wayne County Produce Company was a manufacturer of cider and vinegar that was headquartered in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn for over 60 years

The Company’s founder and first president was a German immigrant named Peter Knecht. His obituary, published in the January 21, 1916 edition of Brooklyn’s “Times Union,” gets the company’s story started.

Mr Knecht was born in Bavaria, Germany, on May 19, 1844, and came to this country in 1855. He settled in Calicoon, Sullivan County, N.Y., and also lived in Galilee, Wayne County, Pa., before coming to Brooklyn in 1878.

According to a story published in the September 24, 1905 edition of the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle,” the company was established sometime in 1901.  Initially called the Wayne County Produce Cider & Vinegar Company, it was listed in Brooklyn’s 1902 directory with an address of 202 Oakland Street. Certainly a family affair, the directory named Peter Knecht as president, his brother, Charles Knecht, treasurer and son, Peter N. Knecht, secretary.

That being said, the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” story made it clear that while Peter was president, it was Charles who served as general manager of the operation.

Charles Knecht, who is the proprietor of the Wayne County Produce company, is a pioneer of the trade. For the past thirty-two years he has been in the business, twenty-seven of which were spent with the John Doust Company.

Two years after it was established, the business incorporated as the Wayne County Produce Company. Their incorporation notice was published in the May 14, 1903 edition of the “Times Union.”

The Wayne County Produce Company, of Brooklyn, has been incorporated with the Secretary of State. Its capital is placed at $30,000, consisting of shares of $100 each, and the directors for the first year are as follows: Peter Knecht, Charles Knecht, Peter M. Knecht and Edward F. Knecht, of Brooklyn.

At the time it appears that all manufacturing, bottling and distribution was accomplished in their factory that was located, along with their offices, in the block bounded by Greenpoint Avenue, Oakland Street, Calder Street and Newell Street. The 1905 “Brooklyn Daily Eagle’ story summarized the operation like this.

The apple juice is brought from the upstate counties, particularly from the section just north of Albany, and near the town of Raven, in barrels. The pure apple juice is of course cider. The cider is taken from the barrels, placed in a large vat, from which it is allowed to run into a generator, which is tightly packed with rattan. Sugar is also used in the process, and the combination changes the juice into vinegar…

The  story then went on to provide this brief description of their Greenpoint plant.

The Wayne County Produce Company, which has a large plant at 200 Oakland Street, Greenpoint, is one of the foremost of the companies in the cider and vinegar trade in New York. In the company’s plant there are at present eight large tanks, or vats, which have a capacity of about 500 barrels. From these vats the cider, or vinegar, is barreled by means of hose, which is thoroughly sterilized before the beginning of each day’s work.

Several years later, this June 1, 1911 item found in the “Times Union” suggests by then they were manufacturing their vinegar at an upstate New York plant before shipping the product to their facility in Greenpoint, which now included a second location on Meserole Avenue, for bottling and distribution.

Bottled goods are a specialty with the Wayne County Produce Company, located at 200 to 206 Oakland Street and 179 to 193 Meserole Avenue. The concern produces cider and vinegar received from its country branch upstate, and the products are bottled and distributed from the two Greenpoint depots.

This advertisement, published in the same edition of the “Times Union,” mentioned both Greenpoint distribution points.

Around the same time their Greenpoint bottling operation was described like this in an August 31, 1912 item in the “Times Union.”

The bottling and labeling departments are conducted on the most cleanly up-to-date methods…The daily sales in bottles of Vinegar alone runs about 500 dozen. None of the empty bottles come back.

Newspaper advertisements  for their cider and vinegar that ran during the 1920’s exhibit the the same ribbed style bottle as that of the subject bottle.

That being said, Thanksgiving and Christmas advertisements in 1922 make it clear that bottles weren’t the only way to get your cider.

By the mid-1920’s the company was operating as many as nine plants in upstate New York, as evidenced by this story that appeared in the October 31, 1925 edition of Brooklyn’s “Standard Union.”

At Marion, N.Y., the newest plant of the company was recently opened. Here a staff of 100 men, working under the most sanitary conditions, turn 250,000 pounds of apples into cider and vinegar each day during October, November and December.

Eighty-three tanks with an average capacity of 72,000 gallons each, store the cider and vinegar for the months when apples cannot be obtained. Others of the company’s plants are located at Highlands, Kendall, Catskill, Modena, Albion, Red Hook, Cheviot and Clintondale, all in New York State, in counties where the finest apples are grown.

That being said their main office and distributing plant remained at their Oakland Street location where, according to the 1925 “Standard Union” story:

Twenty-five horse drawn trucks operate from here, with fourteen auto trucks, delivering the bulk of apple products. Tank cars are used for shipments to the Middle West.

Around this time the company was advertising four different vinegar types; Cider, White, Malt and Tarragon, all of which are mentioned in this February 1, 1927 “Standard Union” advertisement.

In the Fall of 1929 the company began advertising apple sauce in addition to their cider and vinegar. One of the first ads I can find was this New Year’s advertisement for Wayne County Cider that appeared in the December 30, 1929 edition of the New York “Daily News.” A reference to their apple sauce which appears introductory in nature, appeared at the bottom of the advertisement.

Later, certainly by 1936, the company had added pepper relish and jellies/ preserves to the menu as well, as evidenced by this March 23, 1936 advertisement in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle.”

The company was still advertising in the late 1950’s. This ad for their cider, now in “handy new 4-packs,” appeared in several 1957 editions of “Newsday”

In  1960, the company’s run was coming to an end. By then they had lost at least one of their upstate plants when the Marion N.Y. plant was put up for public auction. The auction notice appeared in the January 3, 1960 edition of Rochester New York’s “Democrat and Chronicle.”

Three years later the business was sold. Today the business is run under the name of “Wayne County Foods.” Their web site, http://waynecountyfoods.com, completes the story.

In 1963 the company was purchased by the Nemeth family. Vincent Nemeth, a Master Cooper had been making barrels and tanks for the wine industry in Hungary before immigrating to America with his wife Katherine after WW II. At the time of their purchase they were operating out of Brooklyn, New York. In 1969 Vincent’s son Peter joined the company, carrying on the tradition of supplying natural food products to greater New York markets. By 1975 they had outgrown their Brooklyn facility and moved to the Bronx, operating their growing business from this location for 24 years. Once again having outgrown their current facility, in 1999 they moved to their current location in New Jersey.

The bottle I found is machine made, 10 inches tall and contains 20 ounces.  A little over 2-1/2 inches  in diameter, its design actually consists of 10 narrow, vertical panels. The bottle matches those pictured in advertisements published during the 1920’s.


As early as 1935 and throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s their cider was available in several sizes, namely quarts, as well as half-gallon and gallon jugs. This December 18, 1947 advertisement in the “Brooklyn Daily Eagle” mentioned all three sizes.

Finally, here’s the 1940’s version of what is likely their quart size, found in the October 13, 1949 edition of the “Mount Vernon Argus.”