Monday, January 22, 2018

Sickles Bottling Company

I’ve featured nostalgic soda pop advertisements on this blog a lot in the last few months, so a recent email from longtime blog contributor Rick Kurish was perfectly timed. It contained information about a Lorain bottling company that I hadn’t heard of before.

Rick wrote, "I ran across an ad for the Sickles Bottling Company of Lorain Ohio, that I thought might interest you. The ad appeared in the Amherst newspaper of July 8, 1948, and has a nice graphic of a young lady enjoying a Ma’s Old Fashioned Root Beer.”

Here’s the ad (below).

Now that’s the kind of advertising copy I like: short and to the point!
But getting back to Rick’s email. He noted, "The interesting part for me was the location of the Sickles Bottling Company, located at 1142 West 14th Street in Lorain. My dad grew up at 1127 West 18th Street, and that was just a handful of houses east of Oberlin Avenue, which would lead me to believe that the 1142 address was probably located on the corner of West 14th Street and Oberlin Avenue. I never knew there was a bottling company at that location."

Rick checked the Chronicle-Telegram for the same time period and found the ad below.
Ad from the Chronicle-Telegram of April 6, 1948
Rick was able to establish a rough timeline for the company based on when the ads ran. "As far as I can tell,” he wrote, "the ads ran occasionally from early 1948 until at least August of 1952.”
"A June 1953 reference to the Sickles and Franklin Bottling Company would seem to indicate the merger of two companies. Apparently the location at 1142 West 14th Street closed at the time of the merger,” concluded Rick.
Rick was right on the money with the timeline for the business. It first appeared in the city directories in the 1947 edition, with George H. Sickles was the manager. 
Here’s a recent view of the company’s former facility at 1142 W. 14th Street in Lorain, courtesy of Google Maps.
Below is the “Beverages – Wholesale" listing that ran in the Lorain Telephone Company directory in 1947. You can see that there were quite a few local bottlers and distributors. Sickles Bottling Company has one of the large ads running down the right-hand side of the page.
As the ad noted, the firm bottled Ma’s Old Fashion Root Beer. It appears to have been a popular regional brand, with lots of old signs and bottles for sale on the internet.
Sickles Bottling Company's listing disappeared as of the 1952 directory. As Rick noted, the company merged around that time with the Franklin Bottling Company (which I mentioned before on this post back in 2012). The new, combined bottling company lasted until the early 1960s.
A 1959 Lorain phone book ad
Although Ma’s is no longer in business, Squirt soda is still around. Here’s the link to its website; Little Squirt the mascot is there too, on the company’s ‘history’ page. Grapette is still available too.


Anonymous said...

I grew up in that area, 16th and Washington Ave. I don't remember that building as being a pop distributor,before my time, I guess. That was my old stomping ground as a kid. City Field, City Garage (where you could go in and buy a pop from their coke machine), Lorain Creamery etc. The building you reference I believe was a produce company later on. I actually applied fore a job their in High School (mid-70's).

-Alan D Hopewell said...

Funny you should mention Squirt; I had a bottle yesterday, first time in probably forty years....tastes the same.