It all started way
back in 1891.
A group of Collinsville businessmen raised $5,000 and created the
Canning and Packing Company.
struggling little plant went
through a few different owner/operators until 1907 when the Brooks
Everett and Elgin, took over. They operated under the name of Triumph
and Pickle Company.
The ghost sign
image of the company
name can still be seen on the north wall of the old
brick factory. Soon
the name became Brooks Tomato Products Company.
1920, the brothers sold out
to American Cone and Pretzel Company. Then in 1933 the G.S. Suppiger
purchased the plant. The Brooks brand name
was retained by each new owner.
product line had acquired an excellent reputation over the years.
catsup factory had great success,
surviving the Great Depression, and growing by leaps and bounds through
The plant produced much more than catsup, including chili
spaghetti, hominy, soups, and other sauces.
Tabasco Flavor Catsup," as it was named, was extremely popular. So much
so that the McIlhenny Tabasco Company threatened a lawsuit claiming the
term "tabasco" was their copyrighted property. Not wanting to
fight a costly legal
battle, the Suppigers changed the name to "Brooks Old Original Tangy
The change can be seen on these two vintage recipe
promoted its product well. In Belleville and St. Louis, big 12-ft high
Brooks catsup bottles, adorned with neon,
on sign poles.
Brooks was even
advertised in Sportsman's
Park, home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the St.
At one time it was America's
seller among tangy catsups, and in the greater St. Louis area it
all other brands combined by 2 to 1.
1947, records show that the
W.E. Caldwell Company of Louisville, Kentucky, entered a contract to
the 100,000 gallon water tower. Final drawings were approved in 1948
the World's Largest Catsup Bottle was completed in October of
A water tower was
needed for plant
operations and to supply water to the new fire protection sprinkler
Gerhart S. Suppiger, then president of the company, suggested the tower
be built in the distinctive tapered shape of their catsup bottles.
amused by the idea
back then, little realizing they would create a landmark that would be
world renown 50 years later.
Brooks Foods merged with P.J. Ritter Company and the Suppigers sold
share of the company in 1960. Catsup bottling operations were moved to
Indiana in the early 1960s, and the old factory was then used as a
town still lament the sweet smell of catsup that no
wafted through town.
1993, Curtice-Burns, Inc., the
then-parent company of Brooks Foods, decided to sell the property. The
water tower's future was in jeopardy and the Catsup Bottle Preservation
Group was formed.
was willing to deed the tower
to the city of Collinsville, but the city declined the offer citing the
cost of repairing and repainting the structure was far too much for the
city's budget. The Preservation Group started a nationwide "Paint It!"
campaign and began to raise the needed funds.
Read more on our "Restoration" page and for a more detailed
look, check out the News and Information Archive.