In 1870, a Mrs. Catherine Guiton was running a grocery and saloon at 70 Canal Street, which is now Sheridan Avenue. I presume John J. Guiton was her son, who built the business up to the claim of being Albany’s greatest grocers and, in 1907 at least, was located at 144-146 South Pearl Street, in business with Patrick C. Reilly. John and Patrick helped make legal history in 1911 in the all-important butter versus oleo debate.
Seriously, whether oleomargarine could be yellow or not was a raging battle. In “People of New York vs. John J. Guiton and Patrick Reilly,” the State contended that the grocers sold two packages of oleo to state inspectors, “honestly represented, but having a yellow color and that otherwise ‘resembled’ real butter. It was not contended that there was any misrepresentation, but the dairy authorities claimed that the law prohibits the sale, even if the product resembles genuine butter in any way.” This recounting of the case comes from “The National Provisioner,” which with a straight face called itself the “Official Organ of the American Meat Packers’ Association.” (I’d have thought kidneys, perhaps, or liver.) In its exciting coverage of the case, the official organ said, “Here was where the court dealt the butter argument a death blow. Getting at the bottom of the whole controversy at one stroke, Justice Cochrane declared that oleomargarine had as much right to a yellow shade as butter, provided its ingredients were natural, and provided it was sold under its own name.”
A search of the auction sites will turn up the occasional crock or jug from Guiton, declaring “Albany’s Best Grocers’ and Bakers’.” (The apostrophes to indicate plurals are Guiton’s, or Guitons’, not mine.)