Plumber leaves trash crew 1950s Rheingold Beer in bathroom and kitchen interior demolition job
I don’t usually accept gifts on the job, but I won’t turn down a good beer (even if it is 50 years old).
Next to a cast-iron tub on an interior demolition job in Bayside, Queens, I found this beer can that must be at least 50 years old. You can see from looking at the top of the can that you actually need a can opener to get it open — there’s no pop-top like we have today.
The brand, Rheingold Beer, was introduced in 1883 in our great city of New York by the German American Libemann family. For a decade, from 1950 to 1960, Rheingold occupied 35 percent of New York’s beer market, making it the primary beer for the workingman. The family sold the company in 1963, and because the brand couldn’t compete with larger national breweries, the company shut down in 1976. It was later reopened in 1998 and it’s still around today.
When I say this beer was big, I mean it was part of New York culture. The label had its own “Miss Rheingold” pageant in which beer drinkers would vote on the woman who would be featured in its ads.
Rheingold has also made an appearance in a number of films and TV shows, including The Godfather, Sophie’s Choice and Mad Men. It was featured in Stephen King’s “Carrie,” the 1954 issue of Mad magazine and in the summer 2011 edition of San Francisco Opera’s “The Ring of the Nibelung.”
Who would have thought that a bathroom and kitchen interior demolition job would give me an aluminum can with so much history and meaning? The old German beer can now has a home on my office shelf.
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