Our Nations oldest ginger soda, Vernors Ginger Ale
, was created over 130 years ago. Many of today's soft drinks take an understandable pride in their histories, but they all must bow to Vernors.
In the mid 1800’s a golden colored ginger ale was being imported from Belfast, Ireland and was becoming quite popular throughout the United States (ginger ale would be the nations most popular soft drink for about seventy years). At nineteen-year-old, a young man named James Vernor began experimenting with his own ginger ale recipe. After 4 years he was able to discover just the right selection of secret ingredients to create Vernor’s Ginger Ale
Mr. Vernor would offer his golden ginger ale to his drug stores soda fountain patrons for the next thirty years (all good drug stores had a soda fountain) However, Vernor's Ginger Ale was not an overnight success (at least not on a large scale). In fact, it would not be until 1896 that there was enough business to open a small plant. It was there that Mr. Vernor, along with his nineteen-year-old son, James Vernor II, (the companies only employee) blended, aged, bottled, and distributed Vernor's Ginger Ale. Vernors extract at the time was aged in oak cask for four years before it was ever used to produce the soft drink. This process of aging in oak would continue until at least the 1980's. Although during Prohibition golden ginger ales sales fell dramatically because of its association with liquor Vernors was able to survive. From there Vernors would grow to the point of Vernors becoming synonymous with ginger ale.
J. Vernor Davis (James Vernor’s nephew) did an excellent job in running the company in the 1950’s before attracting a group of investors who in 1966 purchased Vernors. However, without family running the company, it did not fair as well. Vernors was sold to American Consumer Products in 1971, then to United Brands in 1979 who ended bottling operations at the Detroit plant in 1985. In 1987 they would sell Vernors to A & W Brands. A & W itself was bought by Dr Pepper/Cadbury in 1993, and in 1996, Dr Pepper merged with 7Up.
If you want to taste Ginger Ale the way it was meant to taste then order some Vernor’s Ginger Ale today.