Vintage Toronto Ads: A Ginger Ale Worth Listening To

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Vintage Toronto Ads: A Ginger Ale Worth Listening To

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It may not have had the comedic potential of a banana phone, but imagine the looks bypassers may have given to anyone grooving down the street with a pop can nestled next to their ear…or not, given the number of novelty promotional portable radios produced during the pre-Walkman/iPod era. The manufacturer took no responsibility for anyone who mistook the radio for an actual can of locally brewed ginger ale and discovered the lovely fizz of leaking battery acid.
Charles Wilson began bottling ginger ale and other sodas at a plant on Sherbourne Street in 1875. The signature on the company’s bottle belongs to his son Sam, who expanded the business in the early 20th century and introduced a cash deposit bottle return system. Two years after today’s ad appeared, the Wilson family sold the firm to Crush International. The name lingered until low sales and an old-fashioned image resulted in its disappearance from store shelves in 1985.
Just before the fizz went away for good, Toronto Star columnist Joey Slinger described the sensations experienced while drinking Wilson’s:

Wilson’s ginger ale used to have bite, zest, sparkle. It made your whole mouth want to put on its dancing shoes. Taking a swallow of Wilson’s was like getting new batteries in your pacemaker. And it came out in a boldly marked can that seemed to shout, “Ginger ale and proud of it.” At least it did until some genius decided boldness was the wrong approach for ginger ale.

Source: The Toronto Star, September 2, 1971. Additional material from the February 21, 1985 edition of The Toronto Star.

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