The Whistle Soda Elves were the mascots for the Vess Beverage Company located in St. Louis, Missouri.
The elves were introduced around 1938 and appeared on Whistle orange soda products until the early 50s. The tagline for the soda was: “Thirsty? Just WHISTLE!”
The formula for the popular orange-flavored soda “Whistle” was developed and marketed in the 1920s by Charles Leiper Grigg, a Vess salesman. Born in Price’s Branch, Missouri in 1868, Grigg later invented 7Up, a lithium and lemon-lime flavored soda. In 1929, he started The 7Up Company.
The Vess Beverage Company was founded by Sylvester “Vess” Jones in 1916 in St. Louis, Missouri. He specialized in cola and fruit-flavored sodas that were sold primarily in the Midwest with bottling plants in Ashville, NC; Lafayette, IN, Cincinnati, OH; Lorain, OH; El Paso, TX, and elsewhere.
Beside their orange “Whistle” soft drink, Vess Beverage made other flavors, including Vess Dry Ginger Ale, Double Eagle Ginger Beer, Delaware Punch, Buckeye Root Beer, Three V Cola, Cream, Grape, Blueberry, Fruit Punch, Strawberry and Blue Raspberry, Lemon Lime, Cherry Cola, Black Cherry, Pineapple, Peach, Piña Colada Pineapple, Blueberry and Kiwi-strawberry soda. The slogan on their bottle and can labels read: “The Billion Bubble Beverage.”
A non-carbonated chocolate-flavored drink made from Hershey’s cocoa and Borden’s milk (similar to “Yoo Hoo” chocolate soda) was sold in 1979 but discontinued a few years later.
In 1994, Vess Beverage Company was purchased by the Toronto-based Cott Beverages, Inc. Vess sodas – including Whistle – are still being produced today and are available in 27 different flavors. The company was previously sold to Donald Schneebarger, who purchased Vess Beverages after the Stock Market Crash in 1929.
NOTE: In 1953, a 12-foot-tall replica of a Vess lemon lime soda bottle was erected (on a 13-foot-tall steel post) at Hampton Av. and Gravois Blvd. in South St. Louis. It was constructed by W.E. Caldwell Tank Company, weighed over 2,000 pounds, and fitted with 600 lineal feet of neon tubing by the Treesh Neon Sign Company of East St. Louis, Illinois. The bottle was believed to be the largest, revolving, lighted bottle in the world.
After many years, the bottle was removed and placed in storage at the McGuire Moving and Storage just north of downtown St. Louis until 1989 when it was restored and relocated at the corner of 6th and O’Fallon Streets at 520 O´Fallon Street near The Drury Inn & Suites Convention Center in downtown St. Louis, just to the north of the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, Missouri. The bottle is mounted on a pole similar to the original, but no longer rotates. In 1990, the bottle (tagged the “Vess Advertising Device”) was designated as the city’s 120th landmark. There are those who believe the bottle should be moved to a better spot, but in the meantime, its neon lights still shines brightly in the night to showcase the famous landmark.
Vess Advertising Device (Giant Bottle)
St. Louis, MO 63106