Before the Civil War began, James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist, had concocted a new drink. It was a mix of 19 ingredients, including ginger, vanilla and natural flavorings.
When Vernor was called off to war in 1862, he stored the secret mixture in an oak cask in his pharmacy. After returning from battle four years later, he opened his secret keg and found the drink inside had been transformed by the aging process in the wood. It had taken on a zippy, zesty, gingery flavor. It was like nothing else he had ever tasted.
For years, the only place you could buy a Vernors was from the fountain in James Vernor's pharmacy at 233 Woodward Ave. in downtown Detroit. But demand for the drink continued to grow. Soon, soda fountains throughout the city began selling cold, carbonated
Vernor kept an ever-watchful eye on the vendors. When it came to maintaining the quality of his drink, he was a fanatic. Vernor's personal scrapbook from the time contains many of the pamphlets he sent to soda fountain owners. Those pamphlets "laid down the law" on how Vernors should, and should not, be served.
This "quality control" helped build a loyal clientele for Vernor's Ginger Soda. Vernor also worked with soft drink manufacturers to make their dispensing machines more practical and affordable.
By 1896, the blossoming popularity of his drink led Vernor to establish his own soda fountain store. In the years that followed, Vernors became available in such distant cities as Buffalo, Toledo, Cleveland and Niagara Falls. The continuing expansion into other markets was both deliberate and methodical.
Just as the process for making Vernors extract requires four long years in oak barrels, there was no rushing the marketing of
Vernors. Historical records indicate that James Vernor wanted to be absolutely sure the consistency of his drink would be maintained before he granted any franchise licenses. As a result, his drink enjoyed predictable success in new cities.
A soda fountain owner who wrote to Vernor in 1898 noted that the ginger soda had acquired an enthusiastic following in his city. "Its purity, delicacy of flavor and great refreshing powers have been testified to by thousands of our soda customers," the franchisee wrote. In time, The
Vernors Company would open a landmark bottling operation in downtown Detroit to handle its expanding business. This riverfront business became a favorite stopping place for locals and tourists alike in the 1940s. It was here one could sip a fresh Vernors for only a nickel and watch as it was being produced.
In 1966, the Vernor family sold the company to an outside investment group. Subsequently, the company was acquired by American Consumer Products and, later, by United Brands.
Vernors returned to the ownership of a soft drink company when A&W Beverages, Inc. purchased The Vernors Company in 1987.
Today, the brand continues under the ownership of Plano, Texas-based Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc., the largest non-cola soft drink enterprise in North America and the largest subsidiary of London-based Cadbury Schweppes.
The consumer relations department at Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc. can answer any additional questions regarding Vernors. Toll-free phone number:
1-800-696-5891 (M-F 8am-5pm Central-Time); Address: Dr Pepper/Seven Up, Inc., Attn: Consumer Relations, P.O. Box 869077, Plano, TX 75086
Vernor's in 12oz long neck bottles can also be found at the
The Soda Shop, if it is not available in your area.