Vernors is an American brand of ginger ale first served in 1866 by James Vernor, a Detroit pharmacist.
Vernors is the oldest surviving ginger ale, according to the company it was first served to the public in 1866 in the United States.
Vernors Company building in Toledo, Ohio, 1925
Vernor opened a drugstore of his own in Detroit, Michigan, on Woodward Avenue, on the southwest corner of Clifford Street and sold his ginger soda at its soda fountain. Initially, Vernors was only sold via soda fountain franchises. In 1896, Vernor closed his drugstore and opened a soda fountain closer to the city center to concentrate on the ginger ale business alone, on Woodward Avenue south of Jefferson Avenue, near the ferry docks on the Detroit River. The early Vernors soda fountains featured ornate plaster, lighting and ironwork featuring a "V" design, examples of which still exist, such as at the Halo Burger restaurant in Flint, Michigan. Later, Vernor also sold bottling franchises in other cities, requiring operators to adhere strictly to his recipe.
Vernor died October 29, 1927, and was succeeded by his son, James Vernor Jr. Expansion continued throughout Prohibition. Just prior to the onset of World War II, Vernors built a 230,000 sq ft (21,000 m2) bottling plant and headquarters encompassing an entire city block on Woodward Avenue, one block from the Detroit River. In the late 1950s, when the City of Detroit proposed construction of Cobo Hall and other riverfront projects, a land-swap was negotiated, and Vernors moved its bottling plant and headquarters to the location of the old civic exhibition hall at 4501 Woodward Avenue, incorporating many of the popular features of the old plant. Tours of the Vernors plant old and new were major tourist attractions.
The brand was originally sold as Vernor's; the apostrophe was dropped in 1959. In 1962, Vernors introduced Vernors 1-Calorie, now called Diet Vernors.
In 1966, the Vernor family sold out to the first of what became a succession of owners. The company was next acquired by American Consumer Products and then by United Brands. The flagship Detroit bottling plant was shut down in 1985, with the local rights to bottle Vernors granted to Pepsi-Cola. The Woodward Avenue plant was later demolished. The Vernors brand was purchased by A&W Beverages in 1987, which was in turn purchased by Cadbury Schweppes. Today, Vernors is property of Keurig Dr Pepper of Burlington, Vermont, and Plano, Texas, and the flagship bottling plant serving Michigan is the Keurig Dr Pepper bottling plant in Holland, Michigan.