Detroit's Schmidt's Conetops
by Chris Taylor (March, 1999)

     The Schmidt Brewing Company of Detroit started as the George Hauck Brewing Co. on Wilkins Street in 1872. After several brewery name changes bearing the Hauck name, Kaiser and Schmidt carried on from 1895 until prohibition, when the Schmidt Products name was added. Schmidt Products became Schmidt Brewing Co. in 1933. Canning the brew must have looked like an economical option to the small brewery and so the first cones, roughly following the bottle label design, were filled throughout the 1940's.

     The first Schmidt's cones (USBC_184-02) boldy bear the slogan "NO SUGAR, NO GLUCOSE ADDED", a consumer concern that even soda giant Coca Cola exploited during that era. I dare say that I have never thought about sugar content in beer. Interestingly, two different cone colors were use by Continental Can Company during the production of this label. Some cans were produced with silver cones and bottoms (probably early production cans) while the majority were fitted with gold cones and bottoms. I have verification of this from a quantity indoor find of the label by a high school classmate of mine in the late 1970's. Luckily, I was able to acquire a pair of these variations at the time to tell the tale. The gold cone variation is by far the most prevalent and comes with red or blue lettered patents information on the right panel.

     Of the very few quarts produced in Michigan, the Schmidt's (USBC_218-13) is by far the toughest. The jumbo can follows the 12 ounce design almost exactly and is a striking can to view. It is reminiscent of an STP fuel addititive can. The best guess I have as to the production date of this would have to be the late 1940's, as I have dumped this quart several times along with common IRTP, non O/I cans.

USBC 184-02 USBC 218-13 USBC 184-03

     "The Natural Brew" slogan appeared on the next can (USBC_184-03), which shares all the rest of the traits of the previous label, except for deletion of the "No Sugar...." slogan. This can is uncommon and must have been marketed for only a short time. The side CCC canning symbol places this can as being produced during the same time period as the quart, or directly after. There are at least three variations of this can, including two examples without IRTP on the face. The first of these cans (USBC_184-04) lacks the IRTP wording on the face, but has the Internal Revenue Tax Paid stamped in ink along the seam. The second variation (USBC_184-05) lacks the IRTP entirely.

     In the late 1940's, another Schmidt's cone top label was produced in Detroit. The Schmidt's America's Finest Beer (USBC_184-07 to USBC_184-09) cone appears to have been marketed primarily in Ohio and other states, where many indoor examples turn up with regularity. These cans almost always come with the alcohol statement stamped on the bottom (Michigan did not require alcohol statements on its in-state cans). These statements range from ALCOHOL WGT. OVER 3.2% to ALCOHOL WGT. 3.2%-8.

     I have an unsubstantiated theory about this label. The America's Finest cones are not commonly found in Michigan, but rather in Ohio, a state which seemed a viable market for E & B Brewing Company products throughout the 1950's. The E & B Brewing Company in Detroit was already producing E & B brand cones, whose brewing company madatories are strikingly similar to those found on the America's Finest Schmidt's cones. These Schmidt's mandatories also closely mirror those that appear on later E & B product labels such as Cardinal (USBC 48-20) and Schmidt's flat tops (USBC 131-18 to USBC 131-22). Whether Schmidt Brewing Company proper filled the America's Finest cones or E & B Brewing was an out-source for the brand is only speculation at this point. I find it highly plausible that the latter is true, since E & B was the sole Michigan producer of canned Schmidt's brand from the mid 50's through the early 60's. Hopefully, an answer will soon come to light.

Same face on both   USBC 184-07 USBC 184-08

     The America's Finest comes in at least two different side panel variations. The right side panel of the first (USBC_184-07) states "NO SUGAR, NO GLUCOSE ADDED" on three lines within the center gold band, while the second variation (USBC_184-08) states "THIS IS OUR FINEST BEER. IT IS SUPREME IN QUALITY AND TASTE".

     As the IRTP law changed, the last of the America's Finest cones were produced in Non-IRTP version (USBC_184-09). It is identical to the USBC 184-08 side panel, except it obviously lacks Internal Revenue Tax Paid on its face.

USBC 184-09 USBC 184-10

     The last cone to be produced by The Schmidt Brewing Company was the metallic silver (USBC_184-10). This label sees the marriage of both The Natural Brew and No Sugar No Glucose slogans and adopts a new catch phrase that would stick with the Detroit brand til the end of its days as a flat top with E & B: Made by the WALSNEK process. I don't know what it was, but this beer had it and by God, the brewers stood by it! This can is perhaps as tough to acquire as the Natural Brew cone, especially in good condition, as the chrome luster tends to tarnish very rapidly.

     As much as I hate to say it, I hope there are other Michigan variations out there you find in your collections as a result of these articles. Please let me know if you discover any!

Back to "Featured Articles"