A JAX truck at a body shop in 1959.
A truck owned by the Jackson Brewing Company, parked by an auto body shop in Algiers, Louisiana, 21-May-1959. Photo is from Franck Studios, via HNOC. Several law firms hired Franck Studios for legal photography. So, it’s likely that a commercial truck parked at a body shop was involved in a collision. The HNOC caption says the truck is parked at City Auto and Body Company. The JAX truck is a Dodge, but I don’t know the model. If you’re a car/truck person, feel free to chime in.
The Jackson Brewing Company operated on Decatur Street in the French Quarter. The Fabacher family named their company for Jackson Square, right across the street. The Fabachers brewed beer in the Quarter from 1890 to 1974.
While there was a vibrant German community in New Orleans, the Fabachers chose to name their beer after a New Orleans icon, Jackson Square. They shortened the brand name to JAX. The beer grew in popularity. This is significant, because New Orleans sported numerous local breweries at the beginning of the 20th Century. To expand the beer’s reach, the Fabachers opened s couple of restaurants. They served JAX in their establishments. PepsiCo used this business model, buying fast food chains like Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. They replaced Coca-Cola products in those stores with Pepsi. As Jax Brewery grew, the company ran afoul of the “other JAX beer.”
The Jacksonville Brewing Company of Jacksonville, Florida, also branded their beer, JAX. By 1935, the two brands collided. The companies established regional sales boundaries to settle the dispute. The Jacksonville Brewing Company closed shop in 1954. The New Orleans brewery acquired exclusive rights to JAX. So, the JAX Truck traveling through NOLA neighborhoods was always the local JAX.
This JAX truck bears the words “Advertising Car” on the side. This told the town it carried no beer. The driver was likely a route salesman. This salesman drove from one bar to another, promoting his product. The advertising rep left printed material, such as posters, etc. The breweries either owned their own print shops or contracted with local shops. They made custom posters for just about anything. So long as the top of the printed material featured the beer’s logo, they’d print signs. The ad rep also carried branded glassware. He would gladly leave a case or two of glasses as he took that next order for keg delivery.
Twelve Months New Orleans August, continuing the series by Enrique Alferez
Twelve Months New Orleans August
This image is the eighth in a series of images by Enrique Alferez, published by Michael Higgins as “The Twelve Months of New Orleans.” Higgins published the illustrations in 1940. The image features an outdoor procession, part of the celebration of the Catholic Feast of Corpus Christi.
Alferez was born in Northern Mexico on May 4, 1901. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1927 to 1929. He came to New Orleans in 1929. Alferez made New Orleans his home. He took advantage of various Works Progress Administration grants in the late 1930s. Alferez created a number of sculptures in the metro area, particularly in New Orleans City Park. Additionally, he designed the large fountain in front of Shushan Airport (now New Orleans Lakefront Airport.
Alferez drew and painted, as well as sculpting. So, he included many New Orleans landmarks in the “Twelve Months” booklet.
The title/cover page of the booklet says:
A set of 12 Romantic
Displaying 60 local subjects
drawn direct on the plate
with pen, brush, and crayon
Printed and published by Michael Higgins
at 303 North Peters St
Seafood is the theme of August’s illustration.
Top Left: Pompano! Pompano en Papillote, A fisherman in a boat hooks a pompano, a popular gulf fish. La Louisiane Restaurant served the fish, baked in a parchment bag with crabmeat, garlic, shallots, butter, salt and pepper. Here’s Emeril’s recipe for the dish.
Top Right: Shrimp! Shrimp were popular long before crawfish dominated our cuisine here in New Orleans. Prior to imported crawfish and farm-raised mudbugs, those crustaceans were very seasonal. Shrimp, on the other hand, were the go-to shellfish. With white shrimp and brown shrimp seasons running for a significant part of the calendar year, Gulf shrimp are wild-caught and plentiful. Alferez suggests Shrimp Arnaud as an interesting way to enjoy them.
Bottom Left: Oysters! Oyster fishing in the Gulf was a different industry in 1940 than now. Climate Change, frequent hurricanes, and oil spills weren’t issues in Alferez’s New Orleans. While these circumstances challenge modern oyster fishers, the classic dishes continue on. Alferez suggests Oysters Rockefeller from Antoine’s Restaurant. The dish was created in 1889 by Jules Alciatore. Jules was the son of the restaurant’s founder, Antoine Alciatore. The dish was so rich, Jules named it after one of the richest men in the world, John D. Rockefeller. You can still get dem erstas at Antoine’s!
Bottom Right: This corner features a blue crab from Lake Pontchartrain, with a section of crab net in the background. Crab a la Broussard, from Broussard’s Restaurant on Conti Street. Lake crabs also endure challenges from climate and high water conditions.
Blessing of the Fleet
The central drawing for August features a priest blessing a shrimp boat. The caption reads:
Blessing the Shrimp Fleet
New Orleans is famed for its Creole
cookery, good eating
Three altar servers attend the priest. Two hold large candles. The third holds a aspersorium, the vessel holding the holy water. The priest dips his aspergillum in the aspersorium, then sprinkles the holy water over the boats as they pass by the dock. The fishing village turned out to wish their men well as they braved the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
See you for the ninth image in September..
Binder’s was “The Happy Baker with the Flashing Light” in the Marigny.
Ad for Binder’s Bakery in the Times-Picayune, 8-July-1966. At the time, the main Binder’s location was at the corner of Franklin and St. Claude Avenues, where the McDonald’s is now. The bakery also operated locations on Independence St., Desire St., and further up on Franklin Avenue, at N. Prieur Street. Joseph Binder started the bakery. His cousin, A. J. Binder, worked with him. A. J. “Butz” Binder, Jr. (St. Aloysius 1929), worked at the St. Claude location from when he was a child, into the 1970s. A.J. Senior opened the the bakery named for him at Frenchmen and N. Rampart Streets, in 1971. Father passed away in 1973, and son took over as general manager.
A.J. Binder, Jr. has a story similar to many we hear about Brother’s Boys who attended St. Aloysius, Cor Jesu, and Brother Martin. After graduating from St. Aloysius, Binder’s delivered loaves of French Bread daily to the school’s cafeteria on Esplanade and N. Rampart Streets. I don’t know if that continued into the Brother Martin years, but I certainly ate my share of roast beef po-boys on Binder’s bread during my years on Elysian Fields.
The Binder’s Bakery tag line, was, “The Happy Baker with the Flashing Light!” The bakery displayed that tagline at the stores, on the delivery trucks, and even on the sleeves for the French bread. The note in this ad caught my eye, something I didn’t think about until I read it:
Sorry … due to Hurricane Betsy, our FLASHING BEACON, indicating when HOT FRENCH BREAD was available, was destroyed. We have tried, with no success, to have the sign company replace it. We hope to have it back in operation very shortly.
So, Hurricane Betsy blew up the Mississippi River and struck New Orleans on 9-September-1965. This ad appeared on 8-July of the following year. The Happy Baker’s light was out for a good while by that point. I don’t know the story of the original flashing light on St. Claude and Franklin. My memories of Binders only go back to the store in the Marigny. That location had a sign, of course. A border of amber lights flashed when hot bread was available. I’m assuming that sign went up when A.J. Senior opened the location in 1971.
Serious here, folks, please share your Binder’s stories with me. Those loaves of French bread were an important part of BOSH culture!
The A. J. Binder’s bakery in the Marigny, after serving the neighborhood and delivering French Bread citywide for 47 years, closed in 2018.
The Washington Hotel in Milneburg attracted guests and groups from across New Orleans.
The hotel opened in 1832. Pontchartrain Railroad operations began two years earlier. The railroad connected Faubourg Marigny with Port Pontchartrain (Milneburg). The straight-line route followed what is now Elysian Fields Avenue. This photo, from the 1890s, is captioned:
Milneburg had many famous hotels and restaurants. One of the most famous is pictured above, the “Washington Hotel”. Their French restaurants won international fame.
So, ownership of the hotel came to the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. The L&N demolished the hotel in September, 1920.
Milneburg received its name from the area’s first owner, Alexander Milne. He built Port Pontchartrain, in Gentilly. MIlne’s facility enabled ships to come to New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico. They traveled, via Lake Borgne and Lake Pontchartrain. The Pontchartrain RR made Milne’s facility a solid alternative to the river.
New Orleanians enjoy spending time on the lakefront. The area offers respite from the heat. Locals found this essential in the days prior to air conditioning. So, taking the train out to Milneburg became a weekend diversion. Over time, Port Pontchartrain diminished. The Pontchartrain Railroad carried more passengers than freight by the 1880s. The L&N, the last owners of the railroad, discontinued it in 1930.
While there were over a number of hotels out at Milneburg, the Washington Hotel stood at the top. For example,the Societa Italia di Mutua Benefienza, held an anniversary dinner at the hotel in June of 1890. According to the Daily Picayune,
About 100 members and their wives and families were seated at the dinner, and a feast of national dishes were disposed of. All passed off most pleasantly, and the anniversary proved to be most successfully observed.
Additionally, in June of 1894, the Third District Benevolent Association held a large picnic at the hotel and its acre of gardens. In the late 1890s, groups often hired jazz combos for entertainment.
Eagles dining on the Texas and Pacific was fun and enjoyable.
The Texas and Pacific Railroad operated two “name trains.” The Texas Eagle operated from St. Louis, MO, to El Paso Texas. The Louisiana Eagle traveled from New Orleans to Forth Worth. The Missouri Pacific operated the “Colorado Eagle,” and equipment moved around between the three routes.
The Eagle trains consisted of streamliner equipment from the Budd Company. So, the T&P offered dining service on the Eagles in Budd-manufactured dining cars.
This menu is undated, but likely from the late 1950s-early 1960s. The three Eagles operated at this time. Additionally, they shared dining cars. So, it was easy for the railroad to standardize menus across the system.
The cover (top) offers a grand illustration of an Eagle consist, in its signature blue/white/silver livery.
The fixed-price menu, left, offered a starter, entree, side dish, and dessert. The entree choices included fish, fried chicken, pot roast or pork chops. Since the Louisiana Eagle started in New Orleans, fresh fish was easy to come by.
The railroad’s starters are typical of the peroid. Again, because of New Orleans, fresh shrimp appeared on the menu. Sides reflect the meat-and-potatoes mindset of regular road warriors. The cooks tempted diners with desserts including fresh baked pie, ice cream, fruit, and Jello.
A La Carte
Eagles dining combined breakfast and lunch into the A La Carte menu. The menu offers eggs as omelets. That reduces confusion on style and quantity. You order the omelet, that’s that. Slept late? Omelet for lunch? No problem. The diner created a satisfying breakfast from the a la Carte menu.
The Eagles offered Broiled Tenderloin Steak, “from the grill,” for $2.50. The dining cars turned that into the occasional full dinner service for a dollar more. While the Filet Mignon wasn’t part of the regular Eagles dining menu, all it took was to slip a flyer page inside. Now, your beef options expanded and upgraded from pot roast.
Ordering in the dining car
Dining and sleeping cars were operated almost exclusively by the Pullman Company for generations. While the Eagles ran Budd equipment in their streamline phase, the sleeping car porters and dining car staff were exclusively African-American men. To avoid confusion and arguments with staff, the white passengers were instructed to circle the items for their order on the dining car check. The waiters didn’t accept verbal orders beyond beverage refills.
This menu comes to us from Mr. Chris Cruz, via the Facebook group, “Railroad Dining Car Cookery.”
New Orleans brewing dates back to the earliest German families in the city.
ED note: This article originally appeared at GoNOLA.com in 2012. Updated with different images and some additional history.
JAX Brewery, Decatur Street, 2013, Ed Johnson photo.
New Orleans Brewing
The German celebration of Oktoberfest is defined by beer. New Orleans has enjoyed a long love affair with beer, chiefly in part because New Orleans has had a strong German community since the 1700s. Those German families built up a strong local beer industry, laying the foundation for today’s excellent local New Orleans brewpubs and craft beers resulting in serious Oktoberfestivities.
Germans have lived in New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana since the 1720s, since the days of John Law’s Mississippi Company. The biggest influx of Germans into New Orleans took place in the 1850s, the result of the turmoil of the mid-late 1840s in Continental Europe. By the late 1850s, the Germans were a strong force in the community, with their own church in the Irish Channel that rivaled the one the Irish built across the street.
Maginnis Cotton Mills, originally the Fasnacht Brewery. Illustration in New Orleans, the Crescent City, as it Appears in the Year 1895.
The first commercial brewery in New Orleans was opened in 1852 by Louis Fasnacht. Fasnacht and his brother, Samuel, came to New Orleans from Switzerland in 1846. They bought the Poeyfarre’ family home, located at Constance and Poeyfarre’ streets, and built their brewery next to it. The Fasnacht brewery did not survive the Southern Rebellion’s tight economic times. The brothers sold the brewery in 1869. The location became Erath and Company Brewery. The Fasnachts re-acquired the brewery in 1872. They closed for good in 1875. The site became the A. A. Maginnis Cotton Mill in 1882. The building is now the Cotton Mill Apartments.
The re-opening of the port after the rebels surrendered the city encouraged others to open breweries, most notably George Merz, in 1869. Merz brewed lager beer. Lagers require cooling. Purchasing ice from Maine boosted the price of Merz’s beer. He operated the Old Canal Brewery in the block bounded by Villere, Toulouse, Robertson & St. Louis. (“Old Canal” refers to the Carondelet Canal, built in 1795.)
Brewing lager made Merz an innovator as well as a brewmeister. He acquired an air compression system built by a Frenchman, Charles Tellier, to improve cooling in his plant. Merz hired a local engineer, F. V. De Coppet, to install it. The Merz brewery became the first with air-conditioning with this installation. Tellier’s system ultimately did not work out as A/C, but De Coppet modified it as an ice-making machine, acquiring several patents for his work.
Brewing continued to grow in the 1870s, and by 1880s, New Orleans became the largest beer-making city in the South. Merz’s Old Canal Brewery, Southern Brewing Company, Crescent City Brewing, Weckerling Brewery, Pelican Brewery, Lafayette Brewing, and Louisiana Brewery all distributed their beverages regionally. Steamboats heading up the Mississippi River and sailing ships connecting ports along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts spread the popularity of New Orleans beer. As part of the cycle of business growth, the industry eventually grew to the point where it was ripe for acquisition. To avoid acquisition by a syndicate of Englishmen, the German brewers merged their operations into the New Orleans Brewing Company, basing their operations at the Louisiana Brewery plant at Jackson Avenue and Tchoupitoulas Street, Uptown, and the Weckerling plant, located at what is now the Louisiana Pavillion of the National World War II Museum, in the Warehouse District.
American Brewing Co. truck, featuring Regal Beer ads, 29-Oct-1954. Franck Studios photo via HNOC.
The American Brewing Company opened in 1891. American acquired an old winery on Bourbon Street, between Bienville and Conti Streets. They brewed “Regal” beer. The name is “Lager” backwards! American brewed Regal until 1962.
In 1891, a group of investors opened a brewery across from Jackson Square in the French Quarter. They named their company after the famous general whose statue dominated the square. By the late 1890s, restaurateur Lawrence Fabacher acquired the Jackson Brewing Company. The company purchased the “JAX” beer name from a company in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1956. The facility closed in 1974, to be resurrected as a specialty shopping center in 1984.
Dixie Brewery. Unnamed illustration for the article, “New Brewery Opens: Magnificent Plant on Tulane Avenue Receives Guests.” The Daily Picayune 1 November 1907, p. 6
In 1907, Merz’ son, Valentine, built the brewery at 2401 Tulane Avenue, and the family began to brand their product “Dixie Beer.” Dixie grew in popularity, becoming a top-seller prior to Prohibition. The beer regained its position as one of the city’s popular brands when the 18th Amendment was repealed. In 1982, Coy International acquired the brewery. They sold it to Joe and Kendra Elliot Bruno in 1985. The Brunos filed for Chapter 11 protection in 1989, coming out of reorganization in 1992. Dixie added other beers, including Blackened Voodoo and Crimson Voodoo. The plant was severely damaged during the Federal Flooding of 2005. The Tulane Avenue location never re-opened, and the Dixie brand was farmed out to a Wisconsin producer.
The iconic Tulane Avenue location merged into the new Veterans Administration hospital, in Mid-City’s medical complex. In 2017, Tom and Gayle Benson acquired the Dixie brand from the Brunos. Tom Benson died in 2017. Gayle Benson opened a new brewery for Dixie in 2018. On 26-June-2020, Benson announced re-branding of her beer. The brewery will drop the “Dixie” name.
The German community recognized the need to control the distribution and retail aspects of the beer business, so they opened up a number of restaurants and bars across the city, outlets that would in turn sell their beer. This synergy of manufacturing and retail continued to grow through the end of the 19th Century and into the 20th, but hit a brick wall with the passage of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920. Most of the small breweries were unable to survive Prohibition, so the industry was quite changed until it could resume legal production in 1933. St. Louis-based Falstaff moved into the New Orleans market with its acquisition of National Brewing in 1936.
Falstaff Brewery, 2600 Gravier St, ca 1949-1950. Franck Studios photo via HNOC
By the 1950s, the incredible diversity of the industry prior to Prohibition was reduced to four brands: Falstaff, Regal, Dixie, and JAX, controlling 80% of the New Orleans market. As the Interstate Highway system expanded, it became easier for national companies to distribute their products, making it more and more difficult for local companies to compete. JAX, Falstaff, and Regal all closed their plants, leaving Dixie as the only old-line brewery left in town. Hurricane Katrina did Dixie in, the owners moving production of the beer to Wisconsin, since the storm did such horrendous damage to the Tulane Avenue plant.
Maskers prepare to board a streetcar in the Phunny Phorty Phellows parade, 6-Jan-2012, dressed as mugs of Abita Beer. Infrogmation photo.
Micro/Craft brewing came to metro New Orleans in 1986, with the opening of Abita Brewing Company on the Northshore. The last 25 years have seen incredible growth of this industry, including new breweries and several brewpubs in town. Like many industries, extreme consolidation opens up opportunities for small operators, who continue the tradition of the Germans of New Orleans.
(Thanks and a raise of my NOLA Brewery tulip glass to www.thebeerbudda.com for great background info!)