St. Louis Recorder of Deeds finds original Budweiser trademark and label design
The St. Louis Recorder of Deeds has located the original trademark application and label design for Budweiser.
The 1878 submission was handwritten, partially in English and partially in German, and while it does not include a specific recipe, it does mention ingredients and an overall profile of the beer.
The office knew it existed but only recently went looking for it.
And the drawing of the proposed label looks strikingly similar to the version still in use today.
“I think you actually have to start looking very closely, and then you start noticing that the crowns are gone. Some of the words are in English now as opposed to German,” said Chris Naffziger, archives researcher in the recorder’s office.
The inclusion of German text was neither an accident nor an intentional nod to heritage. It was about selling beer and communicating to the target audience.
“Even though they had been in America for decades, German American brewers were still publishing their labels in German, because they were marketing very heavily to a German American audience,” Naffziger said.
The biggest difference between the original trademark label and the current version is the lack of any mention of Anheuser-Busch. The “AB” in the middle of the crest on current cans and bottles was “CCC” on the original.
That’s because Budweiser was a product of Carl Conrad & Co. When it went out of business, Conrad sold the name and recipe to Adolphus Busch, who honored his friend by keeping the “Budweiser” name.
Naffziger said the 143-year-old document is very fragile but is being preserved with museum-quality efforts. He said that it is a legal document the office will continue to hold and that there are no plans to put it on display.
“It’s really a special document, and we are very glad we have it and are committed to preserving it,” he said.
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