The Red Wing Purity Dairy Co. story

Recently, there was a request for information about the Red Wing Purity Company. The inquirer was interested in learning about the company, but could find no information. The lady described a thermometer which was to be used to measure the temperature in baby’s bath water. I’m not sure why this promotional gift was ever made, but the company was indeed in business for a few years under that name. The main product, however, was soft drinks.

It all began as the Fargo Mineral Springs Co., which in 1909 was located at 20 Bellbrook Ave. The location was near West Second and Bellbrook and for those who remember, it was later occupied by Ginaven Poultry and later Creekside Furniture and Antique Stripping. When all house numbers were changed in Xenia in 1962, the address became 112 Bellbrook. It was one of those buildings destroyed in the 1974 tornado.

William Heirigle was the first manager of the Fargo Mineral Springs Co. which manufactured a variety of flavors of soft drinks; strawberry being the leading favorite among the local residents. The plant was very modern, with the necessary precautions to make the product with up-to-date equipment and the most stringent sanitary conditions.

The company was proud to say they used only the most wholesome ingredients in the production of the mineral water and the soft drinks. The company advertising said “…they command a large sale throughout this section due to their absolute purity and delightful flavors which appeal to the most exacting palate.”

Ice cream had only recently been placed on the list of “good” foods, due to the healthful ingredients, so in 1914, with G. F. Fuller as the manager of the company, he introduced a new product line “Fuller’s Celebrated Ice Cream.” By this time, it was something of a family business with J. Kenneth Fuller and Lawrence G. Fuller also listed as employees.

By 1918, the Fargo Mineral Water Company was only a memory. G. H. Fuller was still manager at the same location, but the company name was changed to Fuller Ice Cream and Soda Water Co. Inc. A. J. Wilson had joined the company, and Lawrence Fuller was a bottler, while Robert Fuller was listed as chauffeur (apparently delivery person).

The name changed again in just a few years in 1922, Fuller was still there, but now it was the Red Wing Corporation.

In 1924, a new owner Mr. Bennett was a good friend of Verdin A. Moll who was the manager. Mr. Fuller became a salesman. Mr. Moll (father of the late Vern Moll, architect) was licensed “bottler” who had trained in the manufacture of soft drinks. Ingredients were prepared on the second floor and by gravity sent to the mixers on the first floor. The sugar was purchased in large burlap bags and had the consistency of today’s salt used for icy streets.

The company relocated to 135 Hill Street, under the direction of Mr. Moll, and again the name was changed. This time it was known as The Red Wing Purity Company. By 1939, the company was selling it products on both wholesale and retail markets.

Mr. Bennett owned the company with Moll as manager when the business was sold to the Borden Dairy Company. At the same time, Borden’s bought the Red Wing Company of Dayton, Springfield Purity Dairy and the Western Creamery in Xenia.

Vern Moll remembered working at the retail store on Hill Street while in school from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. He dipped ice cream for the price of 5 cents for two dips. A milk shake brought 10 cents and malted milk shakes were 15 cents.

The neighborhood kids would come to help unload new bottles from the train car when the business was still on Bellbrook this would usually take a day or two and the kids were rewarded with soft drinks for their labor. When the entire car was unloaded, ice cream would be served to all the helpers.

Bottles were glass, and had the company name printed on them. In order to make a few extra dollars, people would collect the bottles, bring them to the factory and be rewarded at the rate of 2 cents per bottle.

By the late 1950’s, Russell M. Lewis was the plant manager for Borden’s listing “a complete line of dairy products.” Soft drinks were no longer being manufactured.

The company moved to Kettering in 1964, but kept a local phone number for the convenience of patrons, Milk continued to be delivered to the residents in the area. Many will remember when Glen Adams was the Borden milkman and would deliver your jugs of milk right to your refrigerator.

Many years have passed since the Fargo Mineral Springs Company first began to manufacture soft drinks. Bottles from each of the old companies remain keepsakes for many collectors.

Now, many different brands of soft drinks are available, but there are those who will state that there is no other soft drink that compares with the very delicious Fuller or Fargo or Red Wing sodas.

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