Ce­cil once boasted many lo­cal soda com­pa­nies


Spe­cial to the Whig

— How do you keep the bub­bles in a bot­tle with­out it ex­plod­ing from the buildup of gas?

Bot­tling in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar car­bon­ated bev­er­ages in the late 19th cen­tury pre­sented a unique prob­lem. Wil­liam Painter, a Bal­ti­more ma­chine shop op­er­a­tor, patented the “Crown Cork Bot­tle Seal” in 1892. This in­ven­tion suc­cess­fully kept the bub­bles in the bot­tle. Ini­tially glass bot­tles were hand­blown, but in 1899 the first patent for a glass-blow­ing ma­chine that en­abled the au­to­matic pro­duc­tion of glass bot­tles was is­sued.

This in­ven­tion was first op­er­ated by Michael Owens, an em­ployee of the Libby Glass Com­pany, and pro­duc­tion of glass bot­tles was soon a thriv­ing busi­ness.

Soft drinks go back as far as 1676 when fruit-fla­vored drinks like lemon­ade were de­vel­oped. Vendors in Paris car­ried this con­coc­tion in tanks on their backs and dis­pensed the mix­ture of lemon juice, wa­ter and honey to Parisians. Car­bon­ated wa­ter didn’t come along un­til 1767, when an English­man, Joseph Pri­est­ley, first dis­cov­ered a method of in­fus­ing wa­ter with car­bon diox­ide. Car­bon­ated wa­ter is the ma­jor com­po­nent of most soft drinks.

It was not long be­fore fla­vor­ing was com­bined with car­bon­ated wa­ter with the ear­li­est ref­er­ence be­ing to ginger beer in 1809. Jo­hann Ja­cob Sch­weppe de­vel­oped car­bon­ated min­eral wa­ter and founded the Sch­weppes Com­pany in 1783. Phar­ma­cists sell­ing min­eral wa­ters be­gan to add herbs and chem­i­cals such as birch bark, dan­de­lion, sar­sa­par­illa and fruit ex­tracts to add fla­vor­ing. Soft drinks be­came so ap­peal­ing that they soon pro­gressed beyond the med­i­cal world and were a widely con­sumed bev­er­age.

Soda foun­tains were first man­u­fac­tured in the 1830s and ini­tially they were the pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for Amer­i­cans. Coca-Cola be­gan in 1886 when an At­lanta phar­ma­cist, Dr. John S. Pem­ber­ton, cre­ated a dis­tinc­tive tast­ing soft drink to be sold at soda foun­tains.

Bot­tled drinks were less pop­u­lar, how­ever, due to prob­lems in the U.S. glass in­dus­try. But Joseph Bieden­harn was so im­pressed by the grow­ing de­mand for Coke that in 1894 he in­stalled bot­tling ma­chin­ery in the rear of his Mis­sis­sippi soda foun­tain be­com­ing the first to bot­tle Coke. Soon af­ter, large-scale bot­tling


in­creased dra­mat­i­cally and most towns had a bot­tling com­pany.

Elk­ton had sev­eral, in­clud­ing Perkins & Perkins, Mo Ro Com­pany, Ce­cil Spring Bot­tling Com­pany, C. McA­teer, S&C, and H. Carroll. Mean­while, Alexan­der’s, Geo. H. Queck and A.E. Hague op­er­ated out of Ch­e­sa­peake City, Star Bot­tling Co. was lo­cated in Cowen­town and C. Mohrlein in Port De­posit.

Mo Ro, for­mu­lated by D.S. Ter­rell, was pro­duced and dis­trib­uted from about 1915-20. Ter­rell was the owner/man­ager of Well’s Drug Store on Main Street, lo­cated near the in­ter­sec­tion of North and Main streets. They of­fered a full line of “pure, de­li­cious bot­tled so­das,” in­clud­ing fla­vors such as ginger ale, sar­sa­par­illa, root beer, orange, lemon and grape smash. The drink was man­u­fac­tured in the base­ment, but when the drug store moved to North Street, pro­duc­tion was dis­con­tin­ued.

Perkins & Perkins op­er­ated from 1913-1923 in a two-story wooden build­ing on the cor­ner of Singerly Av­enue and the old ball field. It be­gan when Joseph H. Perkins left Charles E. Hires Com­pany in Philadel­phia where he was chief chemist to start a busi­ness with his fa­ther, J. Will Perkins, whose har­ness shop was vir­tu­ally wiped out by the in­tro­duc­tion of the au­to­mo­bile. Pure fruit juice or fla­vor­ing was bot­tled in small bot­tles and quarts and were used in soda foun­tains. It had a coun­try­wide dis­tri­bu­tion, how­ever when ar­ti­fi­cial fla­vor­ings were in­tro­duced the nat­u­ral prod­uct was no longer com­pet­i­tive and the com­pany closed.

Glass bot­tling com­pa­nies are yet an­other busi­ness that thrived un­til tech­nol­ogy made them ob­so­lete, and own­ers had to rein­vent them­selves and their busi­nesses. Tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to close one door, but open an­other.


The His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety of Ce­cil County has a few bot­tles from the nowde­funct Mo- Ro Co. soda bot­tling com­pany.

This Novem­ber 1917 Ce­cil County News ad pro­moted Mo-Ro Co., an Elk­ton­based soda com­pany.

The His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety of Ce­cil County has a few bot­tles from the nowde­funct Ce­cil Spring Bot­tling Co., which pro­duced bot­tled soda around the start of the 20th cen­tury.

This Au­gust 1918 Ce­cil County News ad pro­moted Mo-Ro Co., an Elk­ton­based soda com­pany.

Perkins & Perkins was an­other Elk­ton-based bot­tled soda com­pany that flour­ished at the start of the 20th cen­tury.

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