Walter Ruby

Walter Ruby story on Treelines

I'm trying out a product called Treelines for presenting family narratives. Here is my first effort, entered in the company's contest for stories about getting started in genealogy.

We Had Em All the Way!


Brilliant work! I'm pretty sure thats what got him fired. That's two times Coca Cola comes into Ruby family lore and things turn out badly; let's not forget that our great-grandfather Abraham Bloch (Walter's eventual father in law, who was in the seltzer business in Albany around 1910) was offered the franchise for upstate new York by a small upstart company from Atlanta that offered a syrupy new carbonated drink and he said, "Naw, I've got more than enough business already." For the rest of his life, whenever he had an idea or made a suggestion, people would say, "Yeah, yeah, and you're the guy who said no to Coca Cola." I drank a Diet Coke today (eveybody in Georgia still seems to drink Coke in support of the home team) and it tasted kind of weird to think of all the pain and grief those corporate SOBs caused our family!

On a happier note, see this New York Times article on Bing Crosby's vintage taping of Game 7 of the 1960 World Series, which ends, of course, with Bill Mazeroski's epic game winning blast! 50 years ago in just a couple of weeks! Time flies when you're having fun. Certainly that was one of the very happiest moments of my life; the purest ecstasy and exaltation. The unheralded, scrappy Pirates upending the mighty imperial awful Yankees. Sublime justice for at least one moment. Miracles do come true, after all.

To paraphrase the Passover song: 'If the only great moment in my life had been Maz's homer slaying the Yankees, that would have been enough!' Not really of course, but its a good line.

Did Coca-Cola endorse the Carioca Cooler?

Walter just called from Savannah GA, where he is on a mixed work-pleasure trip with Tanya, to discuss the latest Walter Ruby developments. I read to him the following expanded version of the snippet published in the previous post, which I had since managed to piece together from multiple searches in Google Books.

You will note an interesting article in connection with the first Fall meeting of the IBA, which meeting was addressed by a well-known wine and liquor authority, Mr. G. Selmer Fougner. This article leaves no doubt that the Carioca Rum Company is very closely associated with the Coca Cola Company in the promotion of a drink known as the Carioca Cooler. The presence of Mr. Homer Thompson of the New York Coca-Cola Bottling Company, at this meeting, is further indicative of the association.

Naturally, the writer is at quite a loss to understand your statement to him at the time of our meeting several months ago, at which you stated definitely that the Coca-Cola Company had no association whatsoever with the Carioca Rum Company and, as a matter of fact, had secured an injunction against these people for the use of the Coca-Cola name and facsimile of the bottle in their advertising."

Appellee's attorneys, in replying to said letter, denied the association with the Carioca Rum Co. referred to in the letter, but attention is called to it here for the reason that, if appellant's selling agent believed that appellee was interested in a beverage containing rum, it is altogether likely that purchasers of appellant's goods bearing the mark ...

Walter's immediate response: "That's what got him fired." I hadn't gotten there yet, but it sure sounds right. Consider the timeline.

Walter is managing the Carioca advertising campaign for American Spirits in 1935-6, using an apparent tie-in with the Coca-Cola company. In addition to the cocktail labels published previously, above is the front and back of a miniature Carioca bottle that is available for sale on an Internet auction site.

Not only is Coca-Cola's name and logo prominently used, the Carioca Cooler's own branding mimics the Coca-Cola typography.

Then Walter abruptly leaves the company for unknown reasons. This very interesting snippet from the publication Printers Ink in 1937 shows the company reassigning its advertising account, presumably after Walter's departure.

Then we have the expanded snippet cited above, which appears to come in a legal filing in an 1940 appellate court case involving Coca-Cola's relationship with American Spirits and the Carioca Cooler. It is unclear who is the appellant and appellee.

As Walter the younger speculates, our early-day Don Draper of a grandfather didn't have authorization from Coca-Cola for his hot new marketing idea but went ahead with it anyway. Then the beverage giant sues or brings the hammer down in some other way on American Spirits, Inc. and Walter Ruby is forced out of the company as a result.

For those who didn't get the reference, Don Draper is the lead character in the television series Mad Men about a self-made man in the advertising business in New York the 1960s. Walter Ruby is a self-made man in the advertising business in New York in the 1930s.

By the way, the G. Selmer Fougner mentioned above was a prominent food and wine writer who had a daily column in the New York Sun, the first of the breed of foodie journalists so prevalent today. When you think of the characters like Fougner and songwriter Harry Ruby with whom our Walter crossed paths, it does seem like an episode of Mad Men.

Wanted. Name of bon vivant who discovered new rum drink!

Believe it or not, the title of this post was one of the advertising slogans that American Spirits, Inc. registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 1935 in support of its premium rum brand, Carioca.

Or how about this one? "Who discovered the Carioca cooler?" That's a gimme for anyone in our family. It's Walter Ruby, the vice-president of marketing for the selfsame American Spirits. But why is he writing advertising copy about himself?

Take a look at the whole list of copyrighted phrases. It's from the Library of Congress 1935 Catalog of Copyright Entries, part 1, volume 32 and it turned up as a snippet in a Google Books search.

Then here are two more snippets relating to the history of this drink, the first from an advertising trade journal in 1938 and the second from a court ruling published in a federal legal register in 1940. Both snippets leave you wanting more, but these excerpts are all that is available without tracking down the full documents.

"That such is the fact is mostly because American Spirits, Inc., who sell Carioca Rum, saw an opportunity to identify their fledgling with mighty Coca-Cola and started plugging a mixture dubbed Carioca Cooler back in 1934. Carioca Cooler ..."

"This article leaves no doubt that the Carioca Rum Company is very closely associated with the Coca-Cola Company in the promotion of a drink known as the Carioca Cooler. The presence of Mr. Homer Thompson, of the New York Coca-Cola ..."

Finally, the great graphical cocktail labels at the top of the post are from a collection on the site Arkiva Tropika. They look to me like coasters, and they have these corny toasts on them. Plus, there's the Carioca Cooler recipe right there. These are for Monday and Wednesday. I wonder if there were five more.


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