“Who Wants the Handsome Waiter?” was a popular pre-prohibition tray and ad. The same images were used by a Canadian brewery. It was popular not only on trays, but on ads and other breweriana.
Who Was the Handsome Waiter?
The Handsome Waiter was Henry Sylvester Hohenberger, he was born in Germany in 1876 and immigrated to the US in 1892.
Henry worked as a waiter at the Highland Hotel in Springfield Mass.
He was skinny had a an ill fitting suit and a great sense of humor. When approaching a table he would ask “who wants the handsome waiter?”
Henry arrived in the US with the sponsorship of his cousin Theodor Robert Geisel. The Family business was a brewery, Kalmbach and Geisel (1875-1894).
In 1894 it was renamed the Highland Brewery and in 1899 it became part of the combined company, Springfield Breweries.
Theodor Robert Geisel had 3 children his oldest being Theodor Seuss Geisel or Dr. Seuss as he would later be known.”
A Bit About Springtown Brewery
During the dry years they attempted, like many other breweries around the US, to market soft drinks.
They didn’t sell well enough however, and by 1924 only Hampden was left selling malt extract, near beer, and probably some illegal real beer as well, New England, outside of Maine, was never a very dry territory.
After Prohibition Hampden Brewery went its own way and stayed open through several changes in ownership and names until 1975.
The former Springfield Brewing plant was the only other part of the former Springfield Breweries Company to open after Prohibition.
Purchased by a Leo Kaufman, it opened as the Commonwealth Brewing Company in 1933. Their master brewer was Louis Kuhn.
A native of Germany, Kuhn had been the master-brewer for Springfield Brewery beginning in 1890 and after Prohibition he filled the same job with Commonwealth.
Commonwealth was apparently never far from going out of business. It survived week to week often getting payment from distributors in order to meet the next week’s expenses.
Despite their precarious financial condition, they were early converts to canning beer, signing a contact with the smallest of the companies producing cans, National Can Company.
Commonwealth canned New England Ale starting in about mid-1935 and added Bay State Ale and Beer in 1936.
They also canned New England Beer for a short time. All of Commonwealth’s cans are fairly tough, but the New England Beer is especially rare.
There are only about 7 or 8 known, including one very rough six-pack dug in Maine, and a single example that was not filled with beer.
Commonwealth struggled along until 1945, then became Springfield Brewing again from 1946-1948.
They finally closed in 1948, unable to compete with larger, better financed breweries.