Celery Cola: “It Picks You Up!” — 1909

by Paula Bosse


by Paula Bosse

When you think of Dallas and soft drinks, you probably think Dr Pepper. But back in 1909, Dallas was the main office for the Western division for the Birmingham, Alabama fizzy drink Celery Cola (containing, one presumes, delicious celery-flavored syrup). Their offices were in the somewhat low-rent stretch of Exposition while rival Coca Cola was snugly housed at the cushy southeast corner of N. Akard and Ross.

Only a couple of weeks after an official state charter was granted to local aspiring soda tycoons W. A. Massie, E. O. Massie, and J. B. Green to start officially producing the elixir in Dallas, this ad — a bit on the defensive side — appeared in the Dallas Morning News (click to see larger image):

celery-cola-AD_dmn_022809DMN, Feb. 28, 1909

Not so much an ad as testimony. Ads are usually more like this:


As it turns out, Celery Cola ceased production in 1910 after repeated findings of the presence of cocaine and large amounts of caffeine by the Pure Food and Drug Administration. Let’s hope Messrs. Massie, Massie, and Green bounced back from their ill-advised investment. The owner of the Celery Cola Company certainly bounced back — he continued to create soft drinks such as — no kidding — “Koke” and “Dope.” Dallas is better off with Dr Pepper. The only whispered allegation that’s dogged them is prune juice — and that stuff is 100% legal.


Top ad from a Celery Cola site here.

Third ad, with the word “its” misspelled (*sigh*) from the comments section of a Shorpy post here.

Best overview on the history of Celery Cola and its creator, James Mayfield, is here.

My favorite part of this story was reading the long list of Dallas-area “illegal” soft drinks (and other oft-tampered-with foodstuffs) in J. S. Abbott’s First Annual Report of the Dairy and Food Commissioner of Texas (Austin, 1908). The soft drink list begins on p. 46 after an interesting prologue here. Celery Cola was not alone! (And, if I’m reading this correctly, Messrs. Massie, Massie, and Green were fully aware of what was going on, having provided the food cops with cocaine-laced samples several months before they bought into the company.)


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.