Tag Archives: advertising

High Grade: The Beer That’s Liquid Food!

I have a bunch of stuff crammed into boxes. I don’t even know what’s actually IN some of the boxes. There are books and papers and documents and potentially collectible stuff that I’ve acquired over the years, most of it coming from the bowels of my father’s book store. Sometimes I see stuff I don’t remember ever having seen before. Like yesterday, when I saw a postcard lying on the floor, near a box ominously labeled “eBay.” This was the postcard (right click for a larger image):

I have to admit I’ve never heard of High Grade Beer, “The Beer That’s Liquid Food,” but, damn, that’s a cool-looking brewery. I investigated further.

According to The Handbook of Texas, “The Galveston Brewing Company (1895-1918) was one of the few regional breweries that survived Prohibition. Adolphus Busch and William J. Lemp of St. Louis were both major stockholders of the corporation that raised $400,000 to found the Galveston Brewing Company in 1895. The brewery formally began operations on February 3, 1896. The pre-Prohibition physical plant consisted of a large ice plant that could produce seventy-five tons of ice, and a modern brewery that could produce 75,000 barrels of beer a year. The plant also had cold-storage rooms and railroad tracks on two sides of the building. The company dug several wells that gave a water supply of two million gallons a day. The Galveston brewery was so well constructed that it survived the Galveston hurricane of 1900 with only minor damage. The major product of the Galveston brewery before Prohibition was a beer called High Grade.”

Sounds like a pretty amazing operation (I’m not sure about post-Ike, but I think the building still stands).

I found a couple of amusing ads for the beer that appeared in the Galveston Daily News. These two ads appeared in 1908 and 1909, and this campaign featuring the annoying “Otto” seems to have gone on for quite some time. The first one, from 1908, is my favorite:

The kids … they love the beer.

The second one, from 1909, isn’t as “enlightening” as the first, but it gives a nice nod to the hard-working (and always sober) Galveston brewery workers:

More successful, I think, (and certainly less didactic) is this typically lovely example of early-20th century advertising art, featuring beer-loving mermaids prettily washed up on the rocks below the Galveston seawall:

I am endlessly fascinated by the weirdness of advertising.

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Subliminal Oprah

Flipping around the channels this afternoon, I came across a commercial for Lime A-way that caught my attention. A nice housewife in a red top is telling us how wonderful Lime A-way is for all her bathroom cleaning needs when suddenly we see a rubber-gloved hand holding a bottle of Lime A-way pointed at a bathroom wall. As the bottle sprays the product onto the tile, it quite clearly spells out OPRAH. It’s weird that I saw it — I rarely pay much attention to commercials, and it flashed by pretty quickly. But I jumped back with the DVR, and several times I watched the Lime A-way spray spell out OPRAH. This can’t be a coincidence (a Jesus on a tortilla “miracle”). What it IS, though, is absolutely brilliant subliminal advertising. My guess is that the ad wizards figure Oprah is the holy grail of celebrity endorsers and a targeted icon of the Lime A-way buying public. If they can’t get Oprah herself, they can at least use her name spelled out in bathroom cleanser. It’s so classy! (Somehow I’m thinking Harpo Productions hasn’t given its blessing to this.)

“Lime A-way? No, I haven’t tried it yet, but I think I heard somewhere that Oprah LOVES it! Thanks for reminding me — I’m gonna get some NOW!”

I wish I had a screen shot of that plain-as-day OPRAH spelled out on that bathroom wall.


Has anyone else even noticed this? Google says no.

Edit: Thanks to reader “Shenanigans” we now have a short clip of the infamous commercial here:

Lime A-way Subliminal

Here’s a screenshot I made from the video (not the highest quality, I admit, but you get the idea):

What do you think?

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