Wednesday, March 30, 2011

30 March 1909: Bludwine Flows to the Pacific

On this day in 1909, the Athens Banner ran the following story:

Bludwine was the 1894 creation of Henry Claude Anderson of Oconee County and "a chemist friend" who developed the formula for a cherry-flavored drink that would be considered a healthy "food drink." Anderson originally wanted to call the product "G.D." for "good digestion," but settled on "Bludwine" and focused advertising on the drink's use as a blood tonic and digestive. The drink was "made principally from wheat, oats, lemons, oranges, ginger, peppermint, and grapes," and used the slogan "For Your Health's Sake." 

Anderson was active in the temperance and prohibition movements at the time, and wanted to produce "a non-alcoholic food drink with enough 'ginger' to make it invigorating, and with a pungency and flavor that would tempt the tippler and the toper to leave their toddy in perference for a drink that was more delicious and more wholesome." However, after prohibition was enacted in Georgia in 1908, finding whiskey-laced Bludwine in the glasses of public drunks was not an unusual circumstance.

At the time of this story about contracts in Hawaii, the company was still privately held. The following year, Anderson would incorporate with capital stock of $100,000, equal to $2,330,000 in today's dollars. By 1917, Anderson had 100 bottling plants in 26 states. After the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906 was passed, health claims could not be made without proof on labels. The company had to change its name to "Budwine" to remove reference to "blood." Its slogan changed to "Makes You Glad You're Thirsty," to remove health claims.

In 1929, the Anderson family sold the company to Joseph Costa, a member of the family behind Costa's ice cream parlor, an Athens institution since 1908. Business continued to dwindle, and by 1969, Budwine was only available locally in Athens. The company officially closed in the 1980s.

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