Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Lorain Whistle Bottling Company Part 1

1924 Lorain City Directory Ad

Did you ever hear of a soft drink called Whistle?

I didn't either, but apparently Whistle was pretty big at one time – and bottled right here in Lorain by the Lorain Whistle Bottling Company at 1138 Lexington Avenue near the railroad tracks.

The tagline for the orange-flavored soda was: Thirsty? Just WHISTLE!

An article in the October 10, 1928 Lorain Times-Herald told the story. The company was originally known as the Lorain Bottling Company and was started in Lorain around 1905 at the Lexington Avenue location. C. F. Zurcher was the head of the company.

The company later became one of the many plants that bottled the popular Whistle soft drink.

Other products bottled at the Lorain plant at that time included Vess Dry Ginger Ale, Double Eagle Ginger Beer, Delaware Punch and Buckeye Root Beer. The 'Vess' name came from the nickname of Sylvester "Vess" Jones, who was the founder of the soft drink company that owned Whistle and many other brands.

Another product bottled at the Lorain Whistle Bottling Company at that time – Brownie – was made from Hershey's cocoa and Borden's milk in flake form. It sounds an awful lot like Yoo-hoo, which also dates back to the 1920's.

The Times-Herald article also mentioned that the plant employed 16 men, and that it was busiest during the warm months of the year. Apparently the cool spring that year played havoc with the bottling plant's business.

Vess sodas – including Whistle – are still being produced today. Here is a link to the company that owns the brands, and here is their product lineup.

Next: Whatever happened to the Lorain Whistle Bottling Company?

Vintage die cut fan pull currently on Ebay
Special thanks to the ephemera website for the 1920 Whistle advertisement. It's a fascinating website with great stories triggered by paper items, including old letters, ads, photos, manuals, etc. Be sure to visit it and poke around!

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