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Celery Cola: 1908

Celery Cola: 1908

John Howell, an Indianapolis newsboy. Makes 75 cents some days. Begins at 6 A.M., Sundays. Lives at 215 W. Michigan St. August 1908. View full size. Photograph by Lewis Wickes Hine. This is as close to a Hine self-portrait as we've seen. Who can tell us about Celery Cola?


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Origins of promotional headgear

It struck me that the most American thing I can think of which nobody ever mentions is the advertising ballcap. This paperboy is a prime example from 1908 and I bet it wasn't new then. You'd think his paper would have outfitted him and his confreres with caps with the paper's name on it, for goodness sake! Celery Cola with a direct ripoff of Coca-Cola font was his lot. In a crowd at going to work or leaving work times, it would seem these diminutive boys would have benefited from having a cap with the paper's name on it. After all, anyone in the police, military or fire services had hats that identified them and had for a good century one way or the other.

I grew up in England before my parents took my family to Canada in the late 1950s as immigrants. I was used in the UK to a cap for my school that had a logo sewn into it. Cricket caps, which were not much different, had similar logos, and had origins going back to the 1700s, so the baseball cap as such wasn't an American invention. But using it purely as an advertising vehicle was. Can't say there was a whole bunch of promotional ballcaps in Canada in 1959, but a decade later it all started in earnest when the super-cheapy adjustable holed headband was invented.

After a visit to the UK in 1993, I sent a big package of different advertising ballcaps to my grandnieces and nephews. This was met with a dull thud of indifference, and the adults gently told me they regarded advertising hats as a bit crass. Five years later, that opinion had changed as times changed over there, and my by now vintage caps were "just the job".

Yes, I searched for the history of promotional headgear, but it seems to be a topic nobody has paid much attention to. Makes you wonder.

Celery Cola Cap

I was reading the various comments regarding Celery Cola when I remembered I had seen a small newsie wearing a cap with the Celery Cola logo. He is first row, second from right, next to that poor cross eyed boy in this photo. Don't some of these pictures just break your heart?

Celery Champagne

I have a copy of a circa 1898 photo of the Dr. Pepper Company in Dallas. The picture shows a wagon in front of the building, both the wagon and the building have advertising on for Dr. Pepper, Zuzu Ginger Ale, and something called Celery Champagne. I googled "Celery Champagne" but there was no match. Could the champagne be similar to Celery Cola, and what is celery cola??

This picture sits above my desk at work, so it catches my eye dozens of time a day. I would greatly appreciate it if someone could satisfy my curiosity on the whole celery champagne/celery cola thing I'd appreciate it.

Koke and Dope

Never realized there had been a soda called Dope. When I moved to Tennessee in the 80s, some of the folks there referred to Coke as "dope." The first time the guy at the convenience store asked this kid from Baltimore if he could put my dope in a poke, I was completely confused.

Celery Cola

I too am a great-grandson of James C. Mayfield. If you would be interested in contacting me for further details my e-mail is
Rgds, Joe

Celery Cola bottle

hello, i cant help you with info about Mr. Mayfield, i was actually hoping you could tell me more about celery-cola bottles, i found one yesterday that says it was bottled in danville, va?.......-brad

Very nice site

I am the great-grandson of James I. Thanks for your site. Warmest regards,
James C. Mayfield IV

Celery Cola

Celery Cola was invented by James C. Mayfield in the early 1890's and first sold at the Atlanta Cotton States Exposition in 1895 in Hutchinson stoppered bottles. Mayfield was a partner with Coca-Cola inventor John Pemberton in the 1880's and became president of the Pemberton Medicine Company on the old doctor's death.

Mayfield was involved with the Wine-Coca Company of Atlanta and Boston in the early 1890's before venturing out solo with Celery Cola and Koke. He opened a factory in Birmingham in 1899 and soon had branches at St. Louis, Nashville, Richmond, Denver, Dallas and Los Angeles. Celery Cola was sold across the US, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, and as far away as Australia by 1906. Mexican General Pancho Villa was a fan of the drink bottled by a local franchisee in Vera Cruz.

In 1909 Mayfield formed the Koke Company in Louisiana. By 1911 it was reorganized as the Koke Company of America and Mayfield's Cola was sold extensively under the trade names Koke and Dope. Coca-Cola claimed ownership of both Koke and Dope even though Mayfield owned both registered trademarks. The two rivals wound up in the US Supreme Court in 1920 and Koke was declared an invalid trademark.

Mayfield continued to sell Celery=Cola and Dope and introduced other soft drinks throughout the 1920's.

I am working on a book on Mayfield and his various enterprises and would appreciate any new information.

Celery Cola origin...

Uh, why not just Google :Celery Cola Bottling Co., Danville, Virginia" and see what comes up? That's what Google is for after all. (You'll find it on the Danville site.) Happy Sunday. E=Mcee-flared...Richard Laurence Baron,

[The page you're referring to is about Porter Brewing in Danville, and how it switched from beer to Celery Cola. But it doesn't have anything to say about the origins of Celery Cola. This was just the local bottler for that part of Virginia. - Dave]

Celery Cola

I have nothing to add to the above, but notice how similar the branding (font) is to later Cola-Cola.

[True. Although Coca-Cola was earlier, not later. This photo was taken in 1908; Coca-Cola got its start in 1885. - Dave]

Celery Cola

Google produced a number of results for " celery cola" "formula" - here are the two most relevant results from the first few pages:
(lots of info, but no recipe or formula...) (only a passing reference, in the history of Coca Cola)

There may be more but my library time is up.
Enjoy! :-)

Celery Cola Cont'd

A couple CC newspaper ads I found from 1926. Click here and here for the full-size versions.

Celery Cola

sounds to me like blow cola

i found this little paragraph at:

The birth of Coca-Cola can not be properly understood without knowledge of its broader historical-pharmacological background. With the coming of capitalism, workers were forced into long hours of hard and tedious employment. As a reaction, various stimulants and narcotics began to find a mass market; tobacco, coffee and tea first and then in the 19th century opium, morphine and cocaine. By the 1880s, many cocaine laced soft drinks had become popular, drinks with names such as Celery Cola, Pillsbury Koke, Kola-Ade, Kos-Kola, Cafe-Cola, and Koke. The reason Coca-Cola rose to national and than international prominence out of this ocean of syrupy stimulation may in part have been due to Pemberton's special "secret recipe, but more likely it was superior marketing; a job done by others who followed him.

Another interesting one:


Celery Soda

You can find it in any deli in New York; I believe it's a regional treat. Dr. Brown's is the most famous. Here's the Wikipedia entry on it:

Celery flavored ?



Apparently, like many colas back in the late 1800s, it had cocaine in it. The USDA filed suit against the company because the company did not label that it had both cocaine and caffeine in it.

You can read about the USDA's interesting cocaine crackdown in soda (circa 1910) here -

Celery Cola

My guess is that is was similar to Dr. Brown's Cel-Ray, a celery flavored soft drink.

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