Monday, May 17, 2010

All Run Down? Then Drink Oshkosh Beer.

From May 17, 1915
From May 19, 1914
Here are two advertisements from Oshkosh breweries that appeared in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern in May of 1914 and 1915. These ads are both fairly typical of this odd period in beer advertising. In the years leading up to prohibition, the anti-fun crowd had the beer makers on the defensive. They’d been smeared as malicious profiteers who thrived by advancing moral decay. Instead of battling back, the brewers went the snake-oil route and started pushing their product as if it were some form of harmless medicine. No mention of good times, here. Hardly any mention of flavor, either. Instead you’re left with the impression that you ought to be taking this stuff with a spoon.

The similarity of these two ads is so striking that it's hard to believe it’s coincidental. Were the brewers in cahoots, trying to present a unified front against the forces trying to run them to ground? Possibly. You find this same tone coming from breweries throughout the Midwest at this time. The questions that hangs in my mind is this: Was anybody actually buying these arguments? Beer as a tonic that “will give you new vital force.” Really? I’ll bet the beer drinkers of 1915 found this as laughably ironic as we do today. But as milquetoast as these ads are, they each contain a line that gives you hope that our good brewers hadn’t completely lost their way. Instead of suggesting you drink a bottle or glassful of their elixirs, they suggest you go for an entire case. Old habits die hard.

If you’re having trouble making out the text on these ads here’s what they have to say (it’s poetry I tells ya):

The Oshkosh Brewing ad from May 19, 1915
All Run Down
You know what that means.
No appetite. No ambition.
Temper Irritable. Future looks dark.
What you need is a tonic;
something that will brace up
the entire system and "put you
on your feet" again. Then
It will give you new vital
fore. The hops are a tonic,
the malt strengthening. It will
bring back your appetite, replenish
the blood, sooth the
nerves and make you sleep.
Try a case.

1631 Doty Street.
'Phone No. 11. Bottle Dept. 183
The Peoples ad from May 17, 1915
Does Your Work
Unduly Tire You?
Most likely your system is
"run down" and you need help.
Beer will do you good, for it
is strengthening and invigorating.
The hops are a tonic, the
malt a food. Its regular use will
build you up—bring back to you
that natural strength and snap
and vigor which will enable you
to do your best work without
over fatigue.
Try a case of

We can honestly recommend
this beer, because it is honestly
MADE — from pure water and
choice cereals—skillfully brewed,
thoroughly aged. And its flavor
will surely appeal to you.
There is no finer beer on the

Just Phone 334

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