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'Miracle' soft drink, Rocola, comes to Bulloch Co.
Bulloch History
roger allen
Roger Allen

Note: The following is one of a series of columns looking at the origins and growth of the agriculture industry in Southeast Georgia and Bulloch County.

The” Druggists Circular and Chemical Gazette” of May 1903 reported Trade-Mark #39,938 was awarded to the “Tonic beverages” of the Kalola Company (of) Savannah, (which included) the word “Rocola.”

According to the Statesboro News of July 19, 1904, the Kalola Company of Manufacturing Chemists had heretofore been focusing on the manufacture their product, “Kalola,” which was used to treat “dyspepsia.”

In the Official Gazette of the U.S. Patent Office, Trade-Mark #39,938 was registered in the U.S. Patent Office for the “tonic beverages” made by the Kalola Company of Savannah, and was filed Jan. 15, 1903.

In a front page advertisement, the June 7, 1904 issue of the Statesboro News advertised a new product now offered by the Statesboro Ice Manufacturing Company.

In addition to Ice and Soda Water, they were now selling “ROCOLA.” The U.S. Patent Office licensed the use of the name “Rocola” to represent “a certain named beverage” beginning in January 1905.

First made in Germany, “Rocola” was made by the American Manufacturing Company in Savannah. The Statesboro Ice Manufacturing Co. soon announced they had obtained a license.

Now, they were authorized “Bottlers and Distributors of “ROCOLA,” the Most Delicious, Refreshing, and Stimulating Beverage.” They urged everyone to try their new “ROCOLA, THE BEST OF ALL DRINKS.”

Furthermore, they urged everyone to give their “Patronage (to) a Country Industry, and let the money remain at home.” The owner and manager was S. Landrum George.

Volume 7 of the Senate Documents (December 7, 1908 – March 4, 1909) contained the report entitled “Soft Drinks Containing Caffeine and Extracts of Coca Leaf and Kola Nut.”

It revealed “An investigation of these products was undertaken (and) the following products contained both caffeine and extract of coca leaf: “Rocola,” made by the American Manufacturing Co. in Savannah.

Even the Official Journal of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees (and) the Bartenders International League of America, published a commentary of the subject of this unusual “beverage.”

The Mixer and Server’s issue of September 15, 1910 had an article entitled “Along the Firing Line: Dope Summer Drinks Says Uncle Sam (and) Bureau of Chemistry Gives Names of Beverages Doped with Drugs.”

It began by stating, “Things are coming to a pretty pass — the prohibitionists say that spirituous and malt liquors are poisonous, and Uncle Sam says that the prohibitionist's "special delight" is bad.”

It warned “Beware of the summer beverage and the "soft" drink in general which is doped with dangerous drugs! This is the warning to the public issued by the Bureau of Chemistry in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

The Bureau announced it had “completed plans for a general crusade against the diffusion of poisons under the guise of harmless light beverages. (to add to their) formidable blacklist of dangerous soft drinks.”

The government seeks “the widest possible publicity (and) is instituting prosecutions against the manufacturers of the beverages for violation of the federal food and drug act and already has obtained some convictions.”

“Under a policy adopted recently (the) department (will) have the privilege of the U.S. mails withdrawn from the manufacturers. Dr. Lyman F. Kebler, chief of the division of drugs, conducted the analysis of the beverages.”

Roger Allen is a local lover of history. Allen provides a brief look each week at the area's past. E-mail Roger at rwasr1953@gmail.com.

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