Schenectady’s Hershey Beverage Corporation

Mohawk Club Ginger AleTime was when there were many, many local soda manufacturers. Yes, the national brands existed, but every city had a bottler or two that made up their own sodas. We ran across this ad and had to admit we hadn’t heard of Mohawk Club, or the Hershey Beverage Corporation.

An article in the Gazette from 1938 promised that “Ginger Ale is Bottled Sanitary” —

Mohawk Club Ginger Ale and kindred beverages are manufactured under most modern and most sanitary conditions. Nothing but the best ingredients that money can buy are used and used scientifically in a clean, scientifically-controlled laboratory. One hundred per cent American refined cane sugar, the most expensive extracts and flavors, filtered carbonated water mixed in the right proportions are used in the making of Mohawk Club beverages . . . The Mohawk Club Beverage Laboratory is in charge of a chemist skilled in the art of beverage making. He has at his command a laboratory consisting of the most up-to-the-minute equipment, immaculately kept at all times and checked and rechecked in an effort to produce as near as possible a 100 per cent pure beverage. The bottling machinery used is the finest and most up to date, having only recently been installed. The bottling plant is fully automatic, the bottle not being touched by human hands after it is once put on the machine. The bottle is washed and sterilized in a 3 per cent caustic solution (New York state only requires a 2 per cent solution). In this process the bottle is not sprayed with this solution but lies dormant in it for 27 minutes and comes out as chemically clean and scientifically sterile as is human possible to accomplish. Each bottle is machine brushed under pressure three different times. It is the only machine of its kind in Schenectady, being used for the manufacture of large bottle beverage.

Hershey sodaHershey was the manufacturer of Mohawk Club beverages and they distributed Saratoga Vichy. Their offices and plant were at 7 North Center Street in Schenectady, just north of Union Street. The building still stands, as a nice-looking apartment building, with the insignia of the John H. Stock Bottling Works. In addition to pale dry ginger ale, they made orange, Tom Collins mix, sarsaparilla, cherry, lime rickey, root beer, birch beer, cream soda, and lemon sour.

We find mention of Mohawk Club as early as 1922, and in 1931 it was referenced as being from the John H. Stock Bottling Works. By 1933, it was clearly made by the Hershey Beverage Corporation – whether they were a name change, a buyout of Stock, or something else, we’re unable to determine. As early as 1937, they were selling a “dietetic” ginger ale, “sweetened with Saccharine to meet the requirements of leading clinics.” It appears that they filed for bankruptcy in 1955.

12 thoughts on “Schenectady’s Hershey Beverage Corporation

  1. Great piece about the Hershey Beverage Co. from 1938.
    Hershey Beverage was started by my Grandfather, William Hershkowitz. He was born in1887 in Yosse Romania and came to America in 1904. He was a Vegetable Peddler. He started a soda fountain business in 1930 that became a soft brink bottling company by 1932, supplying taverns & restaurants through the tri-city areas. Grandpa Willie died in 1948.

    Just to put all this in perspective, I was born in 1937

    What is known, after his death, his three sons and one son-in-law continued to run the business. Abe Hersh was President, Sam Hershkowitz was Vice President Sales, Max Hershkowitz, Esq. was legal advisor and son-in-law, Morris Gold was Office Manager.

    There was a point in the fifties when private label products were important to the supermarkets whereby company was also the supplier of store brands to many of the area chain stores. including being the Dr. Pepper distributor.

    In the early fifties, the Hershey Chocolate Company and the Hershey Beverage Company made an arrangement whereby Hershey Beverage became Hersh’s Beverage. The Cott Beverage Company bought this business in 1963 or 64 and moved the business to Troy New York under the Cott Brand.

    Hersh’s Beverage warehouse and manufacturing location was downtown Schenectady, Union Street (by the railroad bridge) and was sold in the late sixties to Donald Schemerhorn of Schenectady.

    1. Is there any record of employees in the 1920’s? My Grandfather was a bottler in that era and it would be fantastic to find out what company he worked for.

  2. The building is still in great shape. Donald Schemerhorn ran the Acme Printing Co. there for many years. Currently the Centre Street Pub is there.

  3. ….found an old green bottle in MINT condition….never used…in all places….a small town in Florida……bottle is Owens Illinois and dated 1951….is now in my soft drink collection.

  4. I just opened my grandfather’s secretary desk and found a Hershey’s Mohawk Club bottle opener. Phone number just 4 digits: 3304.

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