What it Looked Like Wednesday: WNY’s unique pop brands, 1959

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

In 1959, the Niagara Frontier Bottling Association took out an ad to remind Western New York’s children to bug their parents about returning soft drink bottles promptly.

The Niagara Frontier Bottling Association had 21 members, including the giant names of Coca-Cola, Pepsi and 7-Up, but also much smaller local operations like Visniak, Queen-O and Oscar’s. Just as breweries offered home delivery for committed patrons, many pop bottlers would also drop off soda by the case at your doorstep.

“Ask mother to let you return them and collect the cash deposits,” says the caption next to the happy boy and girl pulling a wagon filled with pop-bottle gold.

Luckily for us nearly 60 years later, not everyone heeded that “bring the bottle back” advice – and many of the classic bottles from long-gone pop makers are still kicking around.

Len Mattie and his wife, Nancy Abramo, run the Parkside Meadow Restaurant. Throughout the classic neighborhood corner tavern, Mattie has displayed what is possibly Western New York’s largest public collection of local pop bottles – among them most of the brand names mentioned in the ad.

Here are some of those bottles as displayed inside the Parkside Meadow:

Ma’s was one of several pops bottled by the New York Beverage Company on Katherine Street in the First Ward.

 

Kist was bottled by Goddard/Kist in Buffalo. Black Rock Pop was bottled by Black Rock Beverages on Hertel Avenue. Visniak was bottled by Saturn-Visniak Bottling on Fillmore Avenue.

 

From left: Wethy’s was bottled by Queen City Pure Water; Sea Beverages is from Buffalo; Hi-Hat Beverage was at 416 Chicago St.; Hi Grade Beverage was on Fougron Street on the East Side; Young-O Beverages was based in a garage on Hickory Street; Coleman’s Beverage was on Rhode Island Street on the West Side; Sunny Kid Beverages were bottled by Broad-Smith, 528 Genesee St.

 

From left: Mission Beverages was located at 127 Kehr St.; Dr. Swett’s was based in Boston, Mass.; Sol Lenzner’s Queen-O was produced at 636 Genesee St.; King Orange Soda was bottled locally by Fillmore Bottling Company.

 

The Smith & Clody and Vartray ginger beer stoneware bottles date from the turn of the century.

 

Wulf’s Beverages was based in North Tonawanda. The Fillmore Bottling Works was at 581 Fillmore Ave.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and spent 20 years working in Buffalo radio and TV, climbing his way to news director at WBEN Radio. Since then, he's been an adjunct professor, produced PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.