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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Where Do You Get the 'Ribbon' in 'Pabst Blue Ribbon'?

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While walking around Milwaukee this summer, you are likely to see someone wearing a "PBR" logo or spot a poster for the annual Pabst street festival in Bay View. Or—most obviously—you'll see it while drinking a can, bottle or tall-boy of the popular cold beer. But where did the "Ribbon" in the name "Pabst Blue Ribbon" come from?

Before the blue ribbon, the beer we today call Pabst was founded by Jacob Best in 1848. Best opened the Best Brewery in Milwaukee, producing 300 barrels the first year. In the 1850s Philip Best took over and his daughter married Capt. Frederick Pabst, who became president of the company. With Pabst as president, the company grew quickly; in 1872, it became the second-largest brewery in the United States. "Best Select" beer won awards nationally and globally, inspiring the company to tie blue ribbons to the bottles.

In 1889, the name was changed to Pabst Brewing Co. The beer became so popular that three years later the company had to purchase 1 million feet of ribbon for workers to hand-tie around each bottle of beer. The name of the beer was officially changed to Pabst Blue Ribbon in 1899. Eventually, the hand-tied ribbons became a thing of the past. However, the ribbon lives on in the logo and the name that we know and love today.

Image: Pabst Brewing Company, 1951

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