Presented by Bettye Lessley:
The Comer Library is often contacted by telephone, by e-mail and in person by people seeking the history of bottling in Sylacauga. A search revealed that as early as 1917 L. M. Veazey Bottling Works advertised high grade carbonated drinks such as Ginger Swing, Pep-To-Lac and My Cola. Also in 1917 there was The Chero-Cola Bottling Company owned by H. B. Foster.
In April of 1925 The Try-Me Bottling Company began operations here, their big plant being on Norton next to The Sylacauga Produce Company. The owners were the Hocutt Brothers. There was a one-half page ad in the local newspaper giving the names of their drinks, which included: Try-Me Grape, Try-Me Root Beer, Try-Me Strawberry, Try-Me Peach, Try-Me Ginger Ale, and Try-Me Cream Soda in 10-oz. bottles which were the same price as 6-oz. bottles. Everyone was invited to their grand opening from l:00 to 6:00 P. M. The ad read that you “can’t spend a cent,” which indicated that the drinks would be free. The next edition of the newspapers reported “Try-Me Serves 8,000 Drinks.”
In 1928 The Lime-Cola Bottling Plant operated by Mrs. H. B. Foster and J. B. Stevens bought The Try-Me Bottling Company from W. P. and C. H. Hocutt. The new owners moved the plant into their new building on the corner of Norton Avenue and Third Street. In February of 1929 Mrs. Foster and Mr. Stevens built a new building and opened a new bottling company. They installed new, modern machinery, increasing the capacity of the plant. Mrs. Foster ran a large commercial candy factory in connection with the bottling plant. One of the drinks sold there was called Steve’s Own. This new building was located at the northeast corner of First Street and Norton Avenue, which is directly across the street from the Sylacauga Today office.
The Coca Cola Company rented a building on “lower Broadway” and opened a warehouse here in June of 1929. This was the building located north of what was known as “Red” McDiarmid’s Place or Dixie Drugs, which was located at the northeast corner of Broadway and Eighth Street. There was an interesting story in the Sylacauga News in August of 1929 entitled “Bridge Falls On Talladega Road.” It seems that the old covered bridge between Sylacauga and Sycamore fell in after a heavy truck of the Coca Cola Bottling Company ran over it. Travel was detoured over the old highway into Sycamore and Talladega.
The 7-Up Bottling Company, located at 119 North Annniston Avenue, was said to be “Sylacauga’s only soft drink bottling company where mixing and bottling is done on the premises.” It was operated by Tom Machen for many years.
The Vogel family came here in 1958 and bought the 7-Up Bottling Company from Mr. Machen. Prior to their coming here, Carl and Ralph Vogel had been in the soft drink bottling business with their father and grandfather, who had been in this business for seventy-four consecutive years. This company produced 7-Up, Grapico, Chocolate Milk, Frosty Root Beer, Cherry Blossom, Old Colony Strawberry, and V-12. The V-12 bottle was said to be clear, but in 1959 the bottle had yellow dots resembling bubbles on it. These soft drinks were distributed in the five surrounding counties, and at that time, the company operated four drink trucks and employed ten people full time.
Published in Sylacauga Today November 7 Through November 21, 2007.