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Was Big Beautiful? The Rise of National Breweries in America’s Pre-Prohibition Brewing Industry

Was Big Beautiful? The Rise of National Breweries in America’s Pre-Prohibition Brewing Industry

Abstract

In the years leading up to national Prohibition in 1920, several breweries gained national prominence. Previous authors have attributed their rise to greater productive efficiencies or to higher product quality. A more detailed review challenges these assertions and argues instead that their accomplishments have more to do with the growing late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American preference for standardized and branded goods. The achievements of the national breweries must be examined in connection with such sweeping developments as the shift to store-bought foodstuffs, the birth of national branding campaigns, the beginning of mass packaging, and the move toward product homogeneity.
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