As Prohibition loomed and threatened the livelihoods of brewers across the country, brewers responded with a series of innovative ad campaigns. Advertising sought to persuade the public by touting the economic benefits of the brewing industry and the taxes thereon, lauding the health value of “liquid bread,” distinguishing beer from hard alcohol, and making philosophical appeals for liberty. Read more about it!
The information and sample article links below provide access to a sampling of articles from historic newspapers that can be found in the Chronicling America: American Historic Newspapers digital collection (http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/). Use the Suggested Search Terms and Dates to explore this topic further in Chronicling America.
Jump to: Sample Articles
- 1907. Pabst Blue Ribbon tries to brand itself as a healthy beverage that promoted temperance. Later Pabst advertising would focus on the superior quality of Pabst Blue Ribbon compared to other beers, while largely ignoring the prohibition debate.
- 1908. Budweiser runs a series of ads invoking historical figures such as Otto van Bismarck, William Shakespeare, and John Hancock. The campaign uses an ad hominem template that will be adopted in 1914 and 1915 to attack prohibition.
- 1908. Budweiser runs an innovative full page ad, in which the Anheuser-Busch logo, a Budweiser bottle, and the Anheuser-Busch plant, were superimposed on a newspaper page, but all of the articles were seamlessly incorporated into the advertisement with headlines like “Beer on the Mayflower,” “The Grain of the Gods,” “World’s Decisive Battles Won by Beer Drinkers,” and “The Temperance Value of Beer.”
- 1912-1913. The Seattle Brewing and Malting Company runs ads to counter the campaigns of the Anti-Saloon League. Despite their attempts the manufacture of alcohol in Washington is banned in 1914. 1914 Budweiser runs the “National Hero Series,” which targets ethnic minorities by tying the fight against Prohibition to the fight for liberty by the national heroes of Europe.
- 1914-1915. Ruppert’s Knickerbocker beer runs a series of ads suggesting that “beer is food” and lauding the nutritional benefits of the moderate consumption of beer.
- 1915. Fitger Natural Beer runs “America’s Most Famous Brewers,” invoking America’s founding fathers in defense of the brewing industry.
- 1915. Budweiser runs the “Framers of the Constitution of the U.S.A.” campaign, which casts Prohibition as a violation of the liberty for which our founding fathers stood.
- 1915. The Philadelphia Lager Beer Brewers’ Association begins running a series called “Facts Versus Fallacies,” which attempts to refute prohibitionist arguments. New ads are published twice a week.
- 1916-1917. The Pennsylvania State Brewer’s association continues printing “Facts Versus Fallacies.”
- 1916. Budweiser introduces its liquid bread ad, suggesting that because beer and bread come from the same ingredients that they are nutritionally equivalent.
- 1917. Budweiser runs the “Moderation Series.” The ads argue that beer, like many other things, is beneficial or even essential in moderation, but detrimental in excess or depravation.
- 1917. American brewers band together to take out full page ads in Washington D.C. papers appealing directly to Congress.
- 1918. The Citizens’ Committee in Missouri takes out full page ads in an attempt to defeat a prohibition referendum in that state.
Suggested Search Strategies:
- [Try the following terms in combination, proximity, or as
phrases using Search
Pages in Chronicling America.] Prohibition, temperance, Facts Versus Fallacies, Budweiser spells temperance, Budweiser means moderation, National Hero Series, liquid bread, true temperance, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Ruppert’s Knickerbocker, Rainier Pale, Budweiser, and Anheuser Busch.
- It is important to use a specific date range if looking for articles for a particular event in order to narrow your results. Date range can be very useful to isolate specific ad campaigns.
Sample Ads from Chronicling America:
Pabst Blue Ribbon (1907):
Seattle Brewing & Malting Company (1912-1913):
Framers of the Constitution of the U.S.A. Campaign (1914-1915):
National Hero Series (1914-1915):
Beer is Food (1914-1915):
America’s Most Famous Brewers (1915):
Facts Versus Fallacies (1915):
Facts Versus Fallacies (1916-1917):
Liquid Bread (1916):
Budweiser's Moderation Series (1917):
Appeals to Congress (1917):
Citizen's Committee (1918):