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Virginia Dare

In 1587, an expedition organized by Sir Walter Raleigh established an English colony of 117 people on the island of Roanoke, off the coast of present-day North Carolina. On August 18th of that year, and just fifteen days after the colonists had arrived, the first English child was born on American soil.

     The child's mother was Governor John White's daughter, Eleanor, and her father, Ananias Dare, served as one of the Governor's assistants. Her baptism on the Sunday following her birth  was the second recorded Christian sacrament administered in North America. The first baptism had been administered a few days earlier to Manteo, an Indian chief who was rewarded for his service by being christened and named "Lord".
Virginia Dare Vin-Vie Bottle Topper
     Before long, Governor White was forced to leave for England to secure much-needed supplies. Virginia was less than one year old and little did he know that he would never see her, or any of the other colonists who remained behind, again.

     When he arrived in England, he found the country to be at war, threatened by the Spanish Armada. In need of his expertise, Queen Elizabeth extended his stay and it was not until 1590, three years to the month later, that he was again able to set sail for Roanoke with supplies for the little colony.

     When he arrived in 1591, he found that the settlement had vanished... and it came to be known in history as Sir Walter Raleigh's "Lost Colony." 

     A secret code had been worked out that should the colony have to leave Roanoke Island for any reason, they were to carve their new location on a tree. If the move was due to an attack, they were to carve over the letters, or name, with the form of a Maltese cross as a distress signal. Instead of the expected sign of distress, he returned to find the word "Croatoan" carved on the tree. To this day, no one is certain where the lost colony went, or what happened to them.

     Many tall tales have evolved from the misty curtain drawn about the Lost Colony. Virginia Dare is the subject of many variations. According to the legend, there was an attack by hostile Indians on the Roanoke colonists. Chief Manteo, returning from a fishing expedition, saw the raid in progress. By using a secret tunnel, he was able to lead all the inhabitants safely to nearby canoes. An all-night trip down the Pamlico brought the group to Manteo's village at Hatteras. There, the colonists were accepted into the tribe as brothers and sisters.

     The fair, blond Virginia Dare was from the beginning a wonder to the Indians. As she grew in stature and years, many braves paid court for her hand in marriage. The fair girl loved all the people, both Indians and white, but was not yet ready to choose a mate.
Chico, the tribal medicine man, was one who was greatly smitten by the maiden's charms. Though Virginia was kind to him, it was clear that Chico's ardor was not being returned. Finally, in a fit of passion, Chico vowed that if she would not marry him, she would have no man. Calling upon the power of the sea nymphs, Chico lured Virginia to Roanoke Island. Stepping ashore, she assumed the form of a snow-white deer.
Virginia Dare Wine ad

     Soon, it was whispered that a white doe was the leader of all the deer of Roanoke Island. Wherever the remarkable creature went, all others followed. Many great hunters tried to slay the mystical creature, but no arrow seemed to find a mark. As time went by, the white doe became a legend as well as a great challenge.

     Finally, a great hunt was organized, and all the young braves of noble blood vowed their efforts. Many prizes and honors were to be awarded the victor. Young Wanchese, son of Chief Wanchese, who had traveled to England, had in his possession a silver-tipped arrow presented by Queen Elizabeth to his father. He believed it had magical powers and would bring him the quarry he sought.

     As fate would have it, Wanchese did indeed sight the snow-white doe and, taking careful aim, loosed his deadly missile. The silver tip succeeded where all others had failed, and the deer fell to the ground. The young brave rushed forward to claim his prize, but all joy fled and was replaced by dismay as he heard the deer whisper with her last breath, faint but clear, "Virginia Dare''.

     The name Virginia Dare came to symbolize wholesomeness and purity, and when Garrett & Company was founded in the region in 1835, the name was adopted as a brand for its wine, produced from the native Scuppernong grape.

     With the institution of Prohibition in 1919, Garrett & Company was required to reduce the alcohol content of its wine. It was then that they decided to utilize their uncommonly fine alcohol in the manufacture of flavoring extracts of the best possible quality.
Virginia Dare Korker Lemon Soda Blend bottle
      Dr. Bernard H. Smith, a noted flavor chemist, was charged with establishing this line of flavors that would carry the name Virginia Dare. With time, the company's flavoring extract business flourished, and in 1923 the Virginia Dare Extract Company was incorporated.

     In 1923, Bernard H. Smith started an independent enterprise in Brooklyn, New York, manufacturing flavors for industry and home use. Smith ran this company until his death in 1952, when Lloyd E. Smith took over as head of the company with factory, offices and laboratory facilities in Bush Terminal, Brooklyn, NY. It was Lloyd who decided to broaden the scope of the Virginia Dare Company.

     The first flavor developed seventy-eight years ago was Virginia Dare Vanilla. The company added, flavor by flavor, a reputation for exceptional quality and excellent service.

     Virginia Dare's first major effort in the fast growing franchised bottlers field was a product known as "Korker", which became a successful clear lemon-lime product and was followed by a full line  of Virginia Dare bottled flavors, some of which carried interesting names such as "South Seas" or "Vin-Vie".

Virginia Dare amber flavor extract bottle

     Pictured  is a 7oz green ACL Korker bottle "Bottled under the auth VIrginia Dare Extract Co, Brooklyn NY" by the Pepsi Cola Bottling Co in Fayetteville NC. It claims it is "A Corking Good Drink". 

     The other Virginia Dare bottle pictured is an amber, paper label bottle with a cork closure, from the Virginia Dare Extract Company in Brooklyn. It claims contents of Grenadine Syrup for flavoring and coloring cocktails and mixed drinks, with instructions for a "Clover Club Cocktail" and a "Jack Rose Cocktail", and mentions Bush Terminal 10 on the label. The magazine advertisement for Virginia Dare Wine is from 1947.

     The name Virginia Dare now includes a wide assortment of vanilla, tea, coffee and cocoa concentrates as well as its fruit, nut, sweet, dairy, chocolate, herbal, spice and tropical flavors. Still located in Brooklyn, on Third Avenue, they also manufacture a line of masking agents for use in fortified smoothies, beverages and yogurt.

     The quality of Virginia Dare products is as consistent as when it first started producing wine in 1835. And the same spirit of adventure and discovery that led development of a thriving business remains.

     If you look in the right places, there are many vintage collectibles of this legendary flavor around today, although comments are that it is not popular among collectors. The Virginia Dare items in my personal collection are among my favorites, as much for the interesting history behind its name as anything else.


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 Virginia Dare Quality Beverages
"The First Lady of Taste"
City Bottling Co Inc, Kensington PA
(clear and green) One Quart
Virginia Dare
"Instant Imitation Pineapple"
Virginia Dare
Virginia Dare 7oz and 12oz ACL VirginiaDare_amber_jug.jpg (41591 bytes) Click HERE to go HOME

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Virginia Dare 
Quality Beverages
Roman Club Bottling Co
New Bedford Mass
7oz and 12oz.
Virginia Dare
"Special Imitation Grape Extract"
Amber One Gallon Jug

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