DAD’S Root Beer

My Dad actually made me a root beer float when I was sick and though I was very young, he taught me to add the soda first to a float glass and then the vanilla ice cream. Otherwise, the float will foam more possibly ending up on the counter more than in the glass. Then he would add some whipped cream and of course, a maraschino cherry.  I never was a root beer lover but’s DAD’S Root Beer was the drink he used. My own Dad always believed in using the product that was made in Chicago since he was a local business man in Chicago as well. DAD’S Root Beer was developed in the basement of a Chicago home.

Created in Chicago in 1937 by Ely Klapman and Barney Berns, it was quite a favorite with locals throughout the early 1940’s. Dad’s was the first to format the six pack and the half gallon bottle.Within another ten years, Klapman and Berns would have 165 franchise bottlers distributing the yellow and blue brand across the continent. Made in Chicago Museum offers some interesting history of the plant that began off the Kennedy expressway between Avondale and Logan Square. It used to be the Borden’s plant in the 1920’s. The plant was finally gutted in the 2000’s and renovated into 55 condominium units

The Klapman and Berns families sold all rights to the Dad’s name and logo to IC Industries in the 1970s. Monarch bought Dad’s in 1986. In 2007, the DAD’S Root Beer Company, LLC of Jasper, Indiana, was formed by Keith Hedinger when Hedinger Brands, LLC acquired the Dad’s Root Beer brand and other soda brands from The Monarch Beverage Co. of Atlanta which include  Bubble Up, Dr. Wells, and Sun Crest.

Bubble Up, Dr. Wells, and Sun Crest were drinks that I was not accustomed back in the 1960’s since Dad also did business with Canfields soda where he would get free can’s of 50/50. Canfield’s plant was located across the street from his glass sales shop. I have never been a soda pop lover but an old-fashioned DAD’s, still made with l wintergreen, licorice, and vanilla, along with ice cream is the best. A memory of my own Dad never forgotten.

Green river and chocolate phosphates

There was a diner we would stop at after our excursion to the Oaklawn Roller Rink. They still served Green River soda and my girlfriend and I had to have one.  The flavor was better than having a Coke or Pepsi. According to John Fogarty, the Green River song was inspired by the soft drink.

According to Wikipedia, Green River soda was first introduced in 1919, by the Schoenhofen Edelweiss Brewing Company of Chicago. Prior to 1920, the brewery produced the popular Edelweiss beer. Schoenhofen began manufacturing Green River and other soft drinks in order to survive the Prohibition Era. It was also made by the Sweetwater Brewery in Green River, Wyoming.

It was popular as a soda fountain syrup, trailing only Coca-Cola in popularity throughout the Midwest. After Prohibition ended in 1933, the Schoenhofen Brewery continued to manufacture Green River, while resuming the production of alcoholic beverages. The Brewery closed in 1950.The brewery district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 27, 1978 and the Administration Building and Powerhouse were later designated Chicago Landmarks on July 13, 1988 located in the Pilsen neighborhood

The Green River brand continued to be produced by other manufacturers after the closing of Schoenhofen Edelweiss. Green River’s current manufacturer, WIT Beverage Company, acquired the brand in 2011. You can buy Green River at Walmart, Binneys, or even buy online at Amazon. Contact GreenRiver.com and connect with their Facebook or Twitter page.

I first tasted a Chocolate phosphate at Markons restaurant, located on Jeffrey Ave in Chicago, in the 1960’s. Markons was a great place to go for lunch since my junior high was located down the street or after a  swim at the Jewish Community’s center pool during the summer, right next door.

The phosphate has been around a long time.  The Wild Cherry Phosphate, among children,  was the most popular during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. A good chocolate phosphate starts with good chocolate, or better yet, cocoa powder, soda water and acid phosphate.

Margies Candies on Montrose still offers phosphates. Lindy’s Chili & Gertie’s Ice Cream offers all flavors; Chocolate, Cherry, Vanilla, and Green River included. Lindy’s Chili and Gerties has several locations in the Chicagoland area including Morris and Countryside. The Big Top Restaurant in Norwood offers a great vanilla phosphate.

 

Canfield soda along with potato chips: Jays, of course

I googled his shop, my fathers, Glass Sales and Service shop, at 6755 South Chicago Avenue. It looked like it had been torn down. But across the street the decrepit remains of Canfield Soda still stood; a company that also progressed along with my Dad. Though I am not sure the details, my Dad did business with AJ canfield back in day always bringing home free cans of 50/50/ a mixture of grape and lime.

Many were introduced to soda by drinking ginger ale, inspired from Canada, and 50/50. The older Canfield was a railroad worker, prior to beginning the company in 1927, with his son who was known as AJ. AJ was 25 years old when he took over the company and they expanded to another facility at 89th street in Chicago. Canfield’s Chocolate Diet Fudge soda was created in 1972 and sold over 200 million cans. In 1995, the A.J. Canfield Company was sold though you can still purchase both sodas at Marianos. AJ passed away at the age of 84 in 2000.

Jays Foods was also founded in 1927 with the beginnings of Leonard Japp Sr selling pretzels from his truck. Eugenia, Mrs Japp, had a potato chip recipe and Leonard along with a partner began selling Mrs. Japps Potato Chips. However, after World War II, that was changed since the name Jap created a negative connotation. The chips were changed to Jays Potato Chips while the company became Jays Foods. Jays was sold to Borden but acquired back to the Japp family in 1994 and sold again to a Chicago equity firm and another snack company. Finally, the company filed bankruptcy in 2007 and the Chicago plant was closed but Snyder’s-Lance continues to manufacture and distribute the product.

Japp died in 2000 at ninety-six and according to South Side Weekly, Al Capone encouraged Japp to open factories and mass produce his snacks. My father commented that the mob, during the 1930’s, truly stepped in to help small, creative business starting out in Chicago after the depression. I think he did some work for them though he would never share.

The chips were produced by state of the art machines at the plant on 99th Street and Cottage Grove, opened in the mid 1950s. According to Made in Chicago Museum, Japp offered profit sharing to employees, daily lunches and even served lunches to neighborhood kids.

Most grocery stores still stock Jays and Canfields, but are they the same? Canfield bottles compared to cans? Jays was actually sold in large tins in the fifties and today you can buy vintage potato chip tins of all types on Ebay….including Jays. Or trade yours in for a price.

I was never a consistent lover of soda or potato chips over the years but if it was a home grown Chicago business, you had to buy and love them.