by Paula Bosse
Summertime in Big D. It’s hot. REAL hot. For some, the only way to properly slake that nagging thirst is with a tall frosty mug of beer. In the summer of 1935, the management of the Texan Hotel Drug Store (at the northeast corner of S. Houston and Jackson streets) decided to offer a headline-grabbing promotion: “ALL THE SCHEPPS BEER YOU CAN DRINK: 60¢ PER HOUR!” (60¢ in 1935 would be the equivalent of about $11.00 today.) Sounds like a bargain, right? Maybe. Depends on your constitution — it meant that you would have to consume over a gallon of beer in one hour to save any money. (Not a problem for some, I realize.)
This made national news — there’s even newsreel footage. The photo above is from an AP wire story, accompanied by this caption: “A Dallas beer parlor offered ‘all the beer you can drink’ for 60 cents an hour. There were plenty of takers, but the proprietor said none had beaten him. The drinker would have to consume more than nine pints an hour to show a profit.”
Speaking of newsreel footage, you can watch it here. As you can see, there certainly were a lot of very enthusiastic Dallas beer-drinkers doing their very best to surpass that gallon hurdle in order to feel they’d spent their money (and their hour) wisely.*
Ah, back when you could guzzle beer in a drugstore. (Several drugstores that same year — including this one — were routinely getting busted for selling illicit whiskey.)
The promotion appears to have been a hit, both publicity-wise and beer-sales-wise. The Dallas proprietor said no drinker had managed to come out ahead, but in Fort Worth, men appear to be made of stronger stuff. Cafe operator Byron Gaines hadn’t anticipated Chauncey C. Brown, a hops-loving patron described as “heavy-set” and “amiable.”
According to United Press reports (this made national news, too), Brown took 58 minutes (rather than 53), but that “seven minutes of that time was spent in playing a slot machine.” It’s good to have hobbies.
Sources & Notes
AP photo, taken in July, 1935, from the Press of Atlantic City site, here.
Newsreel footage is from Critical Past (and can be purchased), here.
The Texan Hotel Drug Store was located at 218 S. Houston St. (northeast corner of Houston and Jackson) — see what the corner looks like today, here.
And … Schepps Beer? I was familiar with Schepps dairies, but not a Schepps brewery. But, yes, the same Schepps family produced highly guzzleable beer. The Schepps Brewing Co. launched in 1933 and lasted into the early ’40s; their downtown brewery was located on Young Street, about where the current City Hall/Convention Center now stand. (Schepps Beer was founded by brothers Julius Schepps and George Schepps, sons of pioneer Dallas baker Joe Schepps, whose Schepps Bakery was a highly profitable business. Joe’s brother Nathan Schepps joined his brother in Dallas about 1912 and started his Schepps Dairy by following his brother’s bakery wagons with his dairy wagon and selling his products to his brother’s customers. So even though it’s not a DIRECT family link, it’s pretty close: Julius and George Schepps were the nephews of the founder of the very long-lived Schepps Dairy. ALSO, their sister, Rebecca Schepps, married Carl Metzger, son of another Dallas dairy titan, Jake Metzger. So the beer guys had close ties to two of the largest local dairies.)
Read a very entertaining interview with George Schepps in the September, 1981 D Magazine article “Uncle George” by Connie Durham, here (scroll down for his memories of Schepps Beer).
Scheppps Xtra Light Lager (“light” meaning a light lager, not a beer low in calories) made a brief return to Dallas shelves in 1978 when the Julius Schepps Wholesale Liquor Co. brought it back; it was brewed at the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner and was sold in “shortnex” bottles (stubby non-longnecks). More can be found in the Dallas Morning News article “Dallas Firm Bottles Touch of Nostalgia” by Dennis Fulton (DMN, July 9, 1978).
(Click pictures and clippings to see larger images.)
Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.