Rheingold Corp. (Beer)
Rheingold Corp. (Beer)
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October 20, 1965
Security-Columbian Bank Note Company
12" (w) by 8" (h)
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Rheingold Beer, introduced in 1883, is a New York beer that held 35 percent of the state's beer market from 1950 to 1960. The company was sold by the founding Jewish American Liebmann family in 1963. According to the New York Times, "Rheingold Beer was once a top New York brew guzzled regularly by a loyal cadre of workingmen who would just as soon have eaten nails as drink another beer maker's suds." Its VP-Technical Joseph Owades claims credit for Rheingold's developing the first light beer.
Rheingold shut down operations in 1976, when they were unable to compete with the large national breweries, as corporate consolidation and the rise of national breweries led to the demise of dozens of regional breweries.
The label was revived in 1998 by Terry Liebmann and partner Mike Mitaro. The beer's evocative name is an allusion to Germany's great river Rhein as well as Richard Wagner's opera Das Rheingold.
Miss Rheingold Girls 1940–1965
In 1940, Philip Liebmann, great-grandson of the founder, Samuel Liebmann, started the "Miss Rheingold" pageant as the centerpiece of its marketing campaign. Beer drinkers voted each year on the young lady who would be featured as Miss Rheingold in advertisements. In the 1940s and 1950s in New York, "the selection of Miss Rheingold was as highly anticipated as the race for the White House." The first Miss Rheingold was Spanish-born Jinx Falkenburg. When Nat King Cole became the first major black entertainer to host a television show, advertisers stayed away - but not Rheingold; Rheingold was the New York regional sponsor for Cole's show. As early as 1965, Rheingold aired television ads featuring African American, Puerto Rican and Asian actors, to appeal to its racially diverse customer base. The company's headquarters was in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Rheingold was the official beer of the New York Mets, and its advertisements featured John Wayne, Jackie Robinson, Sarah Vaughan and the Marx Brothers. They also sponsored The Jackie Robinson Show which aired on 660 WRCA radio in New York City on Sunday evenings between 6:30 and 7pm during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The company shut down four years after the construction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center was completed. During the cleanup of the WTC site following the collapse of the towers on September 11, 2001, numerous Rheingold beer cans were found in the rubble, having been hidden in the beams of the building decades earlier by construction workers who had drunk the beers on the job.
According to an October 18, 1999 New York Observer article, Mike Mitaro's Rheingold Brewing Company LLC bought the brand in 1998. Walter Liebmann, a director of the new company, is a relative of Rheingold's founding family. When Rheingold re-launched, they revived the Miss Rheingold pageant. The new Miss Rheingold contestants no longer wore ball gowns and white gloves - "They had tattoos. They were pierced. They were badasses." In 2003, The Village Voice noted Rheingold for "the best marketing campaign co-opting hipster drinking habits." In 2004, Rheingold stirred controversy in New York City with a series of ads which mock New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on smoking in bars and enforcement of city laws which prohibit dancing in bars which do not have a "cabaret license." Bloomberg responded by drinking Coors in public.
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