While looking at old beer advertisements recently I tripped and fell down the Rheingold Beer rabbit hole and found myself chasing Rheinaroons. That sound a bit crazy I know, but I haven’t lost it, I assure you.
Rheingold Beer was introduced in 1883, brewed by S. Liebmann’s Sons Brewing Co. in New York, New York, the brewery closed in 1976. The brand was purchased and brought back to life in 1998 and subsequently sold to Drinks America of Wilton, CT. But this blog post is less about Rheingold and more about the whimsical cartoon characters who promoted their beer around 1915, the Rheinaroons.
The Rheinaroons were created by F.G. Cooper, these characters have a medieval appearance, all wearing a hat that is made up of an “R” for Rheingold, leggings, tunic and belt and long beard. The Rheinaroons are obviously not sedentary creatures, they are often depicted in scenes that Rheingold consumers could relate with such as camping, boating or firing a cannon shaped like a beer bottle. Each cartoon also came with a poem that went along with whatever the Rheinaroon was doing, Rheingold Beer is displayed in the center of each ad and below a short blurb that often talked about Rheingold being a temperate beverage or promoted drinking in moderation and in others it gave info about the brewery or reminded you of the benefits of having Rheingold on hand.
The Rheinaroons were smart advertising. The cartoon and poem are fun, they take some of the edge off of the fact they are trying to sell beer. This lighthearted form of advertising makes the company seem approachable, I could see people watching their newspaper to see what adventures the Rheinaroons would have next, even sharing the comic with the family, probably not the case with their competitors advertising.
In an article in the Fourth Estate – a weekly newspaper for publishers and advertisers – in 1916 by W. Livingston Larned, he discusses the changes in beer advertising at one point calling prior efforts “Gross and uninspired” and praises the Rheinaroon cartoons, “The Rheinaroon is far more than a passing fancy – far more than a pictorial “comic,” to run for a few seasons, He deserves a pedestal in the trade-mark hall of fame, as having individualism and a great popular appeal.”
One hundred years later and I can still see the appeal, though I doubt this type of marketing would work today its fun to look back at a piece of advertising genius. I’ve put together a gallery of Rheinaroons beery adventures below, I hope you enjoy them as much as I have.