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.