Fort Worth, Texas / Shreveport. Louisiana
The following information has been compiled based on the oral histories of various family members. Errors and/or fuzzy details are entirely possible.
** Unfortunately, I can not help in determining the value of Uncle Jo bottles and other paraphanalia. Your best bet is to check eBay -- bottles are for sale on there all the time.**
The Uncle Jo Bottling Company is named for Jo Glazer (1876-1944), my great-grandfather. Jo and his brother Louis began bottling soda in St. Louis, Missouri in 1898, approximately 10 years after moving to the United States from Russia with their family.
In St. Louis, Jo married Ida Feldman (1881-1945). Ida studied with a Viennese chemist in Kansas City at a bottling company owned by a local Jewish family named Rubenstein. It is there she learned to make the formulas that would become the basis for their future livelihood.
Uncle Jo and Aunt Ida
At the end of the 19th century, Jo and Louis left St. Louis for a warmer climate and eventually made their way to the up-and-coming Dallas-Fort Worth area. Because the brothers wanted to remain within proximity of each other, yet be far enough apart so as not to be each other's competitor, Louis settled in Dallas and Jo in Fort Worth. By the turn of the century, each proceeded to develop his respective soda business.
The Dallas operation, Real Juice Bottling Works, eventually moved from soft drinks to liquor. One of their soda brands was Woosie, a root beer named for Louis' grandson Robert Samuel Glazer whose nickname was Woozie.
The Fort Worth operation, Uncle Jo Bottling Company, was found at 1109 East Lancaster Street which was also home to Ida and Jo and their 6 children. Allegedly, Uncle Jo built the house and the "shop" without an architect.
The Shop, Fort Worth, Texas
Jo and Ida used a variety of basic extracts to create their own flavored sodas. Uncle Jo, "in brown bottles," was a punch created from a basic Bush Flavorings extract. Aunt Ida, which appeared later, used an Armour and Co. lemon-lime extract. Many different flavors were sold under the name Uncle Jo, and ultimately these flavors were replaced by other flavored brands. For example, Uncle Jo Grape was replaced by Grapette. The shop handled a other brands in addition to their own concoctions: Chero Cola, Sugar Cane (a cream soda), Red Rock Cola, and Texas Cola. As the extracts used to create the eponymous brands were discontinued, so were those brands: Uncle Jo in 1942 and Aunt Ida in the 1950's.
At this time, the soda business was considered seasonal. Willard Glazer, Jo's son, made the shrewd decision to market the orange flavor to the school system since it was considered "healthy." This business arrangement allowed the shop to continue bottling and selling from September to May.
According to family lore, Uncle Jo bought retired horses from the Fort Worth Fire Department to haul the bottles. The problem with this decision was that the shop was only a few blocks from the fire station and every time the bells when off, so did the horses, bottles and all. This seemed to foreshadow the fact that as Jo's grandsons began working at the shop, it was inevitable that each one would drop at least one forklift full of bottles as though it were a rite of passage.
As Uncle Jo, the soda, was phased out, Jo's sons were considering their next move. In 1947-1948, the Pepsi Cola franchise bottler in Fort Worth went bankrupt. The bankruptcy lawyer happened to be a close personal friend of Jo's sons, Yale, Willard, and Marvin. They determined that Pepsi Cola was a better soda than Red Rock Cola and picked up the franchise. In 1949, Pepsi began rolling out of the shop in Fort Worth and the Real Juice Company in Dallas.
In addition to bottling soda, the Uncle Jo Bottling Company sold their original flavor extracts in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma and had a few franchises. Both the Fort Worth and Shreveport operations were the strongest and survived into the 70's and 80's as Pepsi Cola Bottling Companies.
Two of Jo and Ida's daughters started their own franchises after getting married. The first was started by Florence (Glazer) and Clarence Goldberg in Shreveport, Louisiana. The newlyweds were given a delivery truck and cases of empty bottles and bought a filler, crowner, and other equipment from Jo and Ida. They began bottling in 1930 at 962 Travis. Aunt Ida was more popular here than in North Texas and billboards using the "Aunt Ida Girl" was commissioned by artist Earl Moran. One brand started in Shreveport was Joys, named for Florence and Clarence's daughter, Joy Goldberg. In 1948, the Shreveport operation rolled out Pepsi Cola.
Joy Goldberg, daughter of Florence (Glazer) and Clarence Goldberg
Another franchise, in Alexandria, Louisiana, was started by Edna (Glazer) and Milton Fox. They started Sonny Boy, which was named for their oldest son, Sylvan Fox. The Alexandria franchise was less successful than Shreveport and the Foxes soon left bottling for broadcasting.
The bottles used at the shop were likely made in Oklahoma. The following descriptions are for the proprietary brands bottled by the Uncle Jo Bottling Company. Others may exist and some have not been seen in the recent past.
Uncle Jo (brown):
Uncle Jo in Brown Bottles / Trademark registered 22016 / contents 8 fl ozs.
on the bottom Fort Worth Texas
Uncle Jo (clear with white ACL):
Uncle Jo / Enjoy, pure and delicious Uncle Jo beverages / contains pure sweetening, sparkling water, imitation flavor, artificial color, 1/10 of 1% benzoate of soda / Uncle Jo Bottling Co., Ft. Worth, Tex.
on the bottom 169-B-9 / B57
Uncle Jo (mini for kids):
Uncle Jo in Brown Bottles / contents 4 fl. ozs. / reg u.s. pat. ofc.
on the bottom pat. 30009 / pat'd apr 2, 1929 with six-pointed star
Aunt Ida (green):
Aunt Ida The World's Greatest Mixer
on the bottom Shreveport, LA with six-pointed star
"Aunt Ida The Favored Drink"
on the bottom "Duncan, OK" with six-pointed star
Joys (clear with white ACL):
Joys Beverages / Best of All / Wholesome, delicious, pure, conts. 7 fl. oz. / Hires Bottling Company / Alexandria & Lake Charles LA. with five-pointed stars and bubbles
on the bottom 33-B-7 / 2
Woosies / Beverages / RJC
on the bottom: Real Juice Co. / cap. 10 fl. oz. / 242-1-B / LG 53 / Dallas, Texas
Syphon Bottle (clear with white & blue ACL):
Uncle Jo / Syphon Water / Phone 2-2391 / Ft. Worth Tex. / cont. 36 fl. oz. with a six-pointed star around the nozzle Uncle Jo Syphon
Also, wooden crates were made to hold both the regular sized bottles and the minis.
Other bottles alleged to exist include an 8oz. brown bottle and clear bottle that resemble the mini, a Sonny Boy that looks like a clear Aunt Ida bottle, and syphon bottles in blue, green, and amber.