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Brewers’ Campaign Against Prohibition: Topics in Chronicling America

Early 1900 pro-beer newspaper advertising campaigns were created to combat prohibition. This guide provides access to materials related to "Brewers' Campaign Against Prohibition" in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.

Introduction

"Beer is a food." November 17, 1914. The Evening World (New York, NY), Image 8. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

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 in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.

Timeline

1907 Pabst Blue Ribbon brands itself as a healthy beverage that promotes temperance.
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 full page advertisements, 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 advertisements to counter the campaigns of the Anti-Saloon League.
1914 The manufacture of alcohol in Washington is banned in 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.
1915-1916 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 Budweiser introduces its liquid bread ad, suggesting that because beer and bread come from the same ingredients that they are nutritionally equivalent.
1917-1918 American brewers band together to take out full page ads in newspapers appealing directly to Congress and State legislatures.