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COM: July 2008

Buckeye Cone: 1952-1955

Buckeye cone. Buckeye cone.

This is one of the first conetops I added to my collection back in the 1970s.  I got it in trade from a kid who lived up the block from me.  I still like the design.

Buckeye Brewing (1838-1966)

The Buckeye Brewing Company was one of the oldest and largest breweries in Toledo, Ohio.  Some sources date it to 1838 and a brewery founded by Julius Kohler.  By 1877, after switching owners several times, it was known as the Buckeye Brewery.  The brewery grew steadily in size, expanding in 1877 and adding a bottling line in 1895.  Ohio went dry in 1919 and the brewery was the only one in Toledo to reopen in 1933 when Prohibition ended.  During Prohibition they sold sodas (including Dr. Swett's Root Beer) and a malt beverage (Buckeye's GS Malt Tonic). 


Buckeye was known for their little waiter mascot named "Bucky."  He was always running to deliver his bottle of beer.  In 1938 the brewery found a Toledo native named Carl Walinski who was only 52 inches tall (4 feet 4 inches).  He looked a lot like Bucky so from 1938-1942 he worked for the brewery making real-life appearances dressed in a waiter's outfit.  He'd roller skate down Toledo sidewalks with a beer bottle on his tray (both securely fastened) or would ride in a small chariot pulled by a goat to advertise Buckeye Bock Beer.    He was let go in 1942 when he asked for a raise and returned to his previous career as a bartender. 

Bucky matchbook. 1942 ad with Bucky.
Bucky from a matchbook cover.
Bucky from a 1942 ad.


1950s Label Changes

In 1952 Buckeye updated their label to make it more "modern" looking.  The old-fashioned short "Bucky" waiter was replaced by a tall, thin, stylized waiter.  This design lasted for three years.

1952 ad, click to see larger.

1952 advertisement (from a Lima, Ohio paper) showing the new label. Click to see larger version.

Buckeye held a contest in 1955 to pick a new label.  They distributed over 50,000 ballots showing five possible new labels in color.  Customers were asked to vote for their favorite new label.  Ballots were mailed to local customers.  Other ballots were passed out in bars and carryouts.  Over 7500 ballots were returned from those mailed (no figures are available for total returned).  The new label abandoned the waiter figure entirely.  However, a antlered buck's head, that had been used on pre-pro labels, proved popular and was used on bottle neck labels with the new design. 

1956 ad, click to see larger.

A 1956 ad showing the new label. (click to see larger)

In 1957 new canning equipment was added and Buckeye began using flat top cans at last.  They also redesigned the label again, making one small change, replacing a gold outline with a silver one.  The flat tops were cheaper and Buckeye continued selling both its beer and ale in flat top cans.

Peter Hand

In 1966  the Peter Hand Brewing company of Chicago bought the brewery as part of their expansion plans. (Peter Hand became Meister Brau Brewing in 1967)   The Toledo brewery still made Buckeye Beer, along with some of Meister Brau's products.  At first Meister Brau's expansion plans went well, but they expanded into non-brewing businesses (including candy and snack foods) and went heavily into debt.  Some of their acquisitions were poorly planned, including the purchase of a small obsolete brewery that was never used and quickly resold at a loss.  In the early 1970s Meister Brau sold several of their brands, including Buckeye, to the Miller Brewing Company.  Buckeye Beer was no longer made in Toledo, the old Buckeye Brewery now made Gold Bond and Iroquois Beers.  In 1972 the Toledo brewery closed when Meister Brau went out of business. 

What Is a Buckeye Anyway?

Many people don't know what a "Buckeye" is.  Ohio is the Buckeye State, Ohio State University is known as the Buckeyes*, but what is a Buckeye?

It's a nut.  Yep.  It comes from a tree whose Latin name is Aesculus glabra, more commonly known as the Ohio buckeye or American buckeye.  The nut is round and dark brown with a light brown center that shows at one end, so it looks like a deer's eyeball.  (It also inspired a candy with a peanut butter ball dipped in chocolate.)

Buckeye nut.

Photo used with permission of www.ohio-nature.com.

*whereas the REAL Ohio University is known as the Bobcats.

Brands Canned by Buckeye

Buckeye Ale

Buckeye Beer

Name Changes

Kohler & Co. 1838-1856
Rudolph & Georgy 1856-1858
Stephan & Co. 1856-1873
Lehman & Eckarts 1873-1877
Jacobi, Coghlin & Co. (Bush, Champlain & Michigan Streets)   1877-1886
Buckeye Brewing Co. (1501 Michigan St.)   1886-1919
The Buckeye Producing Co.   1919-1933
The Buckeye Brewing Co.   1933-1966
Meister Brau, Inc. (branch of Chicago company)   1966-1972
      dba: Buckeye Brewing Co. (1968-1971)
      dba: Cleveland-Sandusky Brewing Co. (1968-1971)
      dba: Cleveland-Sandusky Brewery
      dba: Iroquois Brewing Co.

Sources Used

Thanks to www.ohio-nature.com for permission to use the buckeye picture!

"A New Label? Ask the Customer!"  Brewers Digest (October 1955)

Cornils, Pat, Vic Lucarelli, et al. "Mob, Mavens and Millionaires: The Tale of Toledo Breweries" Beer Cans and Brewery Collectables.  (February 2006)

Cornils, Pat. "Bucky the Mascot Picks You Up" Beer Cans and Brewery Collectables.  (February 2008)

"How Buckeye, Repacking Line, Solved New Equipment Problem"  Modern Brewery Age. (December 1957)

"More Brewers Adopt 'New Look' in Labels" Modern Brewery Age. (June 1952)

Ohio Breweriana website (accessed 28 June 2008)

One Hundred Years Of Brewing (Chicago 1903)

Rick and Becky's Home Page (accessed 28 June 2008)

Skilnik, Bob "Meister Brau/Peter Hand, 1965-1978" American Breweriana Journal (September-October 1999)

Van Wieren, Dale P. American Breweries II  (West Point, PA.: East Coast Breweriana Association, 1995)

Wikipedia entry on the Buckeye Tree (accessed 2 July 2008)

untitled, captioned photo. American Brewer. (June 1952)


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