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Anyone know anything about "S & OK" Butterfield Bottling co great works Maine?

tsalz14

Well-Known Member
Nov 19, 2014
97
0
Welcome to the forum. If you don't mind, I'll share and article from the Soda Fizz by, I believe, cokegirl:

While other kids in his high school graduating class (Old Town High, class of 1938) wrote in their yearbook that they wanted to be doctors and lawyers and such, Percy O'Keefe wrote that he wanted to be president of Butterfield Bottling Company. And you know what? He made it. Of course, he had a slight advantage, his father and uncle owned the company. In 1910, W. L. "Mort" Butterfield founded what became the Butterfield Bottling Company in the Great Works section of Old Town, Maine. Mort operated the firm until 1922, when he transferred ownership of the bottling works to his brother-in-law, Harold Spruce. In an ironic twist, Harold had teamed up with another brother-in-law, Donald O'Keefe, to make the purchase. The total paid was $2000. The new partners maintained Butterfield Bottling as their company name, but elected to add more zing to their product name. They called it S & O'K (for Spruce and O'Keefe). With Donald handling the bottling, and Harold the deliver, the pair built up a steady trade in central and Down East Maine all through the 1920s and 1930s. Percy O'Keefe joined his dad and uncle full-time upon graduation from high school in 1938. Apart from a five-year period working for a Portland boiler firm during WWII, Percy was a bottler for the next 50 years. He achieved his dream of someday becoming Butterfield's president in 1961 when he bought out the Spruce's half-share. During the heydey of the 1930s, Butterfield Bottling sold a solid 30,000 cases of S & O'K a year. By 1988, however, volume was down to 7,000 cases a year. It became harder and harder for a two-person company (S & O'K was truly a "Mom and Pop"; Percy did the bottling, selling and delivering, while his wife Orisa handled the book-keeping) to survive in a soft drink world dominated by giants. In February of 1988, Percy and Orisa sold their formula and rights to the S & O'K name to Jim Moore and several associates. Moore moved operations to the University Mall in Orono, having big ideas - started big, but the results were not good. Jim and his associates simply "spent more than they made," according to Dick Mobarry, a bottling industry veteran, who was brought in as a consultant in the fall of 1990, about the same time as the operations were being moved again, this time to Hildreth Street, in Bangor, Maine. In the end, quoting Dick Mobarry again, Moore and his group "didn't even have enough money to bankrupt." The result was that Bob Flynn of Maine Distributors, the biggest single creditor, took over the label and the firm's few assets in the fall of 1991. Although Bob Flynn had pledged to keep S & O'K in operations, Dick Mobarry admits it will be a "tough road." Fans of old-time flavors, such as sarsaparilla, birch beer, cream, lemon-lime, and others, are rooting that they make it.

I was also intrigued by their company after buying a green 7 or 8 oz green acl with the unique label. Really a cool bottle and story. If they are for sale for not too much, I would pick them up. Enjoy (full credit goes to the author of the article.
 

Naamkeek

New Member
Jan 10, 2017
1
0
More about W.L. Butterfield Bottling.

Well...I learned some things from below that I never knew. My name is Eric Butterfield and I'm the youngest grandson of Walter L. Butterfield (Mont) who died at the age of 87 back in 1971. The bottling works was originally an offshoot of a general store in Great Works that my grandfather had. I remember as a young child visiting the store, but don't have any memory of the bottling works. I have a number of the older bottles which are labeled W.L. Butterfield. They are old enough to have bubbles as if they were hand blown. I also have two old coolers labeled "Drink Butterfield Beverages" then "S & OK Ginger Ale". I had assumed that the bottling works went out of business long before it did, so I was excited to find the history below.

Welcome to the forum. If you don't mind, I'll share and article from the Soda Fizz by, I believe, cokegirl:

While other kids in his high school graduating class (Old Town High, class of 1938) wrote in their yearbook that they wanted to be doctors and lawyers and such, Percy O'Keefe wrote that he wanted to be president of Butterfield Bottling Company. And you know what? He made it. Of course, he had a slight advantage, his father and uncle owned the company. In 1910, W. L. "Mort" Butterfield founded what became the Butterfield Bottling Company in the Great Works section of Old Town, Maine. Mort operated the firm until 1922, when he transferred ownership of the bottling works to his brother-in-law, Harold Spruce. In an ironic twist, Harold had teamed up with another brother-in-law, Donald O'Keefe, to make the purchase. The total paid was $2000. The new partners maintained Butterfield Bottling as their company name, but elected to add more zing to their product name. They called it S & O'K (for Spruce and O'Keefe). With Donald handling the bottling, and Harold the deliver, the pair built up a steady trade in central and Down East Maine all through the 1920s and 1930s. Percy O'Keefe joined his dad and uncle full-time upon graduation from high school in 1938. Apart from a five-year period working for a Portland boiler firm during WWII, Percy was a bottler for the next 50 years. He achieved his dream of someday becoming Butterfield's president in 1961 when he bought out the Spruce's half-share. During the heydey of the 1930s, Butterfield Bottling sold a solid 30,000 cases of S & O'K a year. By 1988, however, volume was down to 7,000 cases a year. It became harder and harder for a two-person company (S & O'K was truly a "Mom and Pop"; Percy did the bottling, selling and delivering, while his wife Orisa handled the book-keeping) to survive in a soft drink world dominated by giants. In February of 1988, Percy and Orisa sold their formula and rights to the S & O'K name to Jim Moore and several associates. Moore moved operations to the University Mall in Orono, having big ideas - started big, but the results were not good. Jim and his associates simply "spent more than they made," according to Dick Mobarry, a bottling industry veteran, who was brought in as a consultant in the fall of 1990, about the same time as the operations were being moved again, this time to Hildreth Street, in Bangor, Maine. In the end, quoting Dick Mobarry again, Moore and his group "didn't even have enough money to bankrupt." The result was that Bob Flynn of Maine Distributors, the biggest single creditor, took over the label and the firm's few assets in the fall of 1991. Although Bob Flynn had pledged to keep S & O'K in operations, Dick Mobarry admits it will be a "tough road." Fans of old-time flavors, such as sarsaparilla, birch beer, cream, lemon-lime, and others, are rooting that they make it.

I was also intrigued by their company after buying a green 7 or 8 oz green acl with the unique label. Really a cool bottle and story. If they are for sale for not too much, I would pick them up. Enjoy (full credit goes to the author of the article.
 

Brenan Stearns

New Member
Jan 24, 2016
1
1
I love how threads like this can often stretch out over several years - a true bottle wiki! To add to this wealth of info about Butterfield Bottling, below are a couple of S&O'K bottles I picked up probably 15 (?) years ago at a small grocery market I believe in Camden, Maine. I seem to recall buying duplicates that I actually drank and they were delicious. The bottles show the company to be out of Bangor at the time - probably the same stewardship as described in the wonderful history posted above.


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