Lincoln, Me. (DG)—
Over the years, brands of beer have come and gone. Today, national brands like Miller High Life, Budweiser, and Coors receive the most attention in print, radio, and TV advertising. Missing from the list of national brands I just mentioned is Schlitz. Although it is still made, Schlitz, has disappeared from the public eye.
In its heyday, Schlitz was among the leading brands of beer. If its saying is accurate, the city of Milwaukee wouldn’t be famous without it.
At one time, Schlitz was the top selling beer. More on that later, but first, here is a brief history on how Schlitz was presented in its print advertising during radio’s golden age.
The enclosed ad to your right was printed in 1937. The fancy bottle was the “Steinie.” It was specially made this way so it easy to handle and didn’t take up space in the fridge or icebox. In an interesting bit of trivia (and according to another Schlitz print ad), the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company pioneered the idea of bottling its beer in brown bottles. This was done to keep unwanted light out and keep the freshness of the beer in.
For those people who wanted their beer in cans and nothing else, Schlitz didn’t leave them out. At the same time the Stenie and the traditional tall brown bottles were used, Schlitz was also packaged in “Cap Sealed” cans. Unlike the flat top cans we are used to today, the Schlitz Cap Sealed Can of the 1930’s was designed like the “Cone Top” cans that were popular at the time. These cans were sealed with the same caps the Schlitz bottles used. Like their bottle counterparts, the Cap Sealed Cans were specially designed to maintain the fresh, smooth, and clean taste Schlitz provided its drinkers.
As an added bonus, Schlitz was enriched with “Sunshine Vitamin D”--- that same health promoting vitamin found in good tasting milk and not so good tasting cod liver oil. Believe it or not, the ads during the 1930’s stated Schlitz With Sunshine Vitamin D was good for its drinkers. From a personal viewpoint, Schlitz took a big chance with this bold statement, because a lot of people have a reputation of staying away from food and beverages that were considered good for them. In this case, Schlitz drinkers didn’t mind, because their favorite beer was delightful to the taste buds from the first sip to the last.
In later years, Schlitz advertising went from Vitamin D to kissing. In addition to the best ingredients used, the secret to the beer’s success was Schlitz--- and only Schlitz used “Just The Kiss Of The Hops.” No, the Schlitz people didn’t pucker up and kiss every hop it used for its beer. The Kiss Of The Hops contributed to a light beer taste without a single trace of bitterness.
With a lot of satisfied beer drinkers around the country, Schlitz consistently ranked among the top selling brands. Not only that, Schlitz was THE largest selling beer during the early 1950’s. The radio listeners heard announcer Ken Carpenter talk about the beer’s amazing success on THE HALLS OF IVY program on NBC Radio .
At the halfway point of the program, announcer Carpenter and one of the characters from the program had a brief chat about the storyline and more importantly, about Schlitz. In the enclosed commercial, Doc Bateman, the head of Ivy University’s Chemistry Department, was correcting quarter term exam papers. He let out a painful groan at a wrong answer one of his students put on his/her paper. Before going into hysterics, Bateman was reprieved when Carpenter arrived. The announcer wanted to talk about Schlitz and how it was “First In Sales In The U.S.A.” From frustration of his students to anticipation of drinking a cold Schlitz, Bateman asked Carpenter if he knew where there were 2 full bottles of Schlitz waiting for someone to drink its content. Being a good announcer, Carpenter immediately knew where to find the product he sold on the program. The commercial closed with the 2 men on their way to a refreshing Schlitz break.
When radio’s golden era coming to a close, Schlitz was still heard on the radio. Its advertising focused on the joy of good living. The meaning of good living was any time of the day when people like the couple in the enclosed ad were ready to relax with a refreshing beer. Of course, that refreshing beer was Schlitz.
On the radio, Vic Damone sang a clever jingle on the real joy of good living. When beer was a part of that good living, Damone musically suggested that all beer drinkers “Move Up To Quality….. Move up To Schlitz.”
As for its #1 ranking in sales in the U.S.A., Damone sang in the jingle that Schlitz expanded its popularity to the largest selling beer in the world. It outsold any and all beer from the cheapest to the highest quality premium brews.
When radio’s golden age ended, Schlitz continued on as a popular beer. It was heard on radio and seen on TV with an array of clever musical jingles that helped sell the beer. As the years progressed, however, Schlitz was overtaken in popularity by the competition. When the major breweries started to acquire the competition (including Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company), Schlitz started to fade from the national scene. It is now made by Pabst Brewing Company (another well known Milwaukee brewery), but only in a limited supply. Sadly, “The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous” isn’t famous anymore. Like the other popular radio sponsors of yesteryear, Schlitz has given way to today’s popular and modern beer brands.
For Schlitz, it was fun while it lasted. From “Sunshine Vitamin D” to “Real Gusto” of the 1960’s, Schlitz provided its drinkers with a beer that made their good times even better. The familiar Schlitz world logo is an indication of its worldwide popularity the beer achieved during its heyday. That meant there were a lot of satisfied Schlitz drinkers.