November 16

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Connecticut Courant (November 16, 1774).

“The BEST of BEER.”

In the fall of 1773, Amasa Jones placed advertisements in the Connecticut Courant to alert residents of Hartford and nearby towns that he “HATH just received a large Supply of LONDON PORTER, and BRISTOL BEER.”  Most of his advertisement focused on cultivated relationships with former and prospective customers.  He “Returns his Thanks to those Gentlemen that have been Kind enough to favour him with their Custom,” simultaneously inviting them to purchase beer from him once again.  Jones hoped “they will continue” those “favours” by placing new orders.  He concluded with a note to “All those Gentlemen that are dispos’d to Favour him with their Custom,” whether or not they previously bought beer from Jones, to promise that they “may depend upon having a Bottle of the BEST of BEER.”

That final line sounded much like an advertising slogan that marketing agencies would develop for breweries two centuries later: “the BEST of BEER.”  Had Jones consulted more closely with the printing office, that final line, rather than his name, could have been the headline for his advertisement.  After all, other advertisements in the November 16 edition of the Connecticut Courant had headlines like “Hartford LOTTERY” and “Best ANCHORS.”  Some entrepreneurs did experiment with headlines other than their names.  Although Jones missed that opportunity, he did conclude with an overture for prospective customers to imagine themselves enjoying the “LONDON PORTER” and “BRISTOL BEER” he sold.  He encouraged them to imagine themselves drinking a single bottle of beer, savoring the experience as they imbibed “the BEST of BEER” that they could acquire anywhere in England or the colonies.  Jones certainly wished to sell beer in quantities, but to do so he devised a marketing strategy that emphasized appreciating his “LONDON PORTER” and “BRISTOL BEER” one bottle at a time.  Consumers need to try those beverages to see for themselves if Jones did indeed sell “the BEST of BEER.”