“Ice cream unrivaled” – How Yuengling survived Prohibition

January 17, 1920 marked a devastating day in the history of the brewing industry in America. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution went into effect that, outlawing the sales of intoxicating beverages across the nation. But the owners of the Coal Region’s most renowned brewery had a plan and were already putting it into motion when Prohibition descended on the United States.

Prohibition Announcement
Headlines in the Pottsville Republican on January 16, 1919. On that day, Nebraska became the 36th state to ratify the 18th Amendment, ensuring that Prohibition would go into effect. After enforcing legislation, known as the Volstead Act, was passed by Congress in October 1919, Prohibition went into effect on January 1920.

Frank D. Yuengling had seen the danger coming toward his family’s brewery on Pottsville’s Mahantango Street. As it became apparent in 1919 that a Prohibition amendment would become law of the land, the scion of the Yuengling brewing family sought another way to keep his family’s business afloat.

He looked to ice cream as the company’s saving grace.

“Perhaps Yuengling family ownership of a farm outside Pottsville gave the company president insight into successful dairy farms in Schuylkill County,” wrote Mark A. Noons, author of Yuengling: A History of America’s Oldest Brewery. The region’s dairy farms could supply all the dairy products needed for a Yuengling ice cream operation.

Construction on a creamery across the street from the brewery had already begun on January 17, 1920.

“At the big Yuengling brewery,” wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer on January 19, 1920, “a large addition to the establishment is being built, but this is mainly for the manufacture of ice cream and temperance drinks.”

By June 1920, construction on the creamery had finished and ice cream was rolling out of the facility for the first time. Frank Yuengling took out a full page advertisement in the Pottsville Republican on June 15, 1920 “announcing the birth of Pottsville’s newest industry – Yuengling’s Ice Cream.”

Yuengling Ice Cream Annoucement

You may well be proud of your city! Pottsville will now produce Ice Cream unrivalled anywhere in the country.

Within the walls of the new sanitary Yuengling plant skilled men and women will scientifically combine Pure Rich Cream, Fresh Fruits gathered in from Maine to California , and Selected Nuts into all the flavors you favor – and better than you ever tasted…

Soon, Yuengling’s ice cream could be found throughout Schuylkill County and in other Coal Region locales. And this business helped the Yuengling brewery survive more than 13 years of Prohibition and the early years of the Great Depression.

The creamery and brewery were later split off and the Yuengling Ice Cream brand later disappeared. It recently has reappeared on grocery store sales across the Mid-Atlantic, restoring a brand that helped ensure that Yuengling would later earn the moniker of “America’s oldest brewery.”

yuengling-ice-cream
(Yuengling’s Ice Cream)

Featured Image: A Yuengling Ice Cream advertisement from the Mount Carmel Item, July 1928.

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