Heublein

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Heublein Inc.
IndustryFood and Beverage
Hotels
Restaurants
Cocktails
Quick Service Restaurants
FateMerged with R. J. Reynolds Co. (1982)
Successor(s)RJR Nabisco then
Grand Metropolitan (1987)
Founded1862
Defunct1982 (as independent co.)
1998 (dissolved)
HeadquartersHartford, Connecticut, USA
Key peopleJohn A. Powers, (Chairman and CEO)
Robert M. Furek, (President & COO)
Employees28,500
 
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Heublein Inc.
IndustryFood and Beverage
Hotels
Restaurants
Cocktails
Quick Service Restaurants
FateMerged with R. J. Reynolds Co. (1982)
Successor(s)RJR Nabisco then
Grand Metropolitan (1987)
Founded1862
Defunct1982 (as independent co.)
1998 (dissolved)
HeadquartersHartford, Connecticut, USA
Key peopleJohn A. Powers, (Chairman and CEO)
Robert M. Furek, (President & COO)
Employees28,500

Heublein Inc. (also known as Heublein Spirits) was an American producer and distributor of alcoholic beverages and food throughout the 20th century. During the 1960s and 1970s its stock was regarded as one of the most stable financial investments, earning it inclusion in the Nifty Fifty.

History[edit]

Heublein was originally founded as a restaurant and hotel business in 1862 by Andrew Heublein, a German American entrepreneur. They began making A1 Steak Sauce in 1895. When the company was handed over to his son, Gilbert F Heublein, it began selling ready-made cocktails, and incorporated in 1915 in Connecticut as G.F. Heublein Inc. By the start of the World War I, Heublein had offices in New York, Frankfurt, Germany and London.

In 1938 Heublein acquired all rights to Smirnoff Vodka, a brand that had been produced in Russia prior to the October Revolution. Heublein is credited with popularizing vodka in the United States by marketing Smirnoff as "White Whiskey". Smirnoff became one of Heublein's most successful brands.[1] Heublein also acquired distribution rights in the United States to many other international spirit, wine, and beer brands including Don Q Rum, Jose Cuervo, Black & White, Harvey's Bristol Cream, Irish Mist liqueur, Bell's whisky, Guinness Stout, Lancer's wines, and Bass Ale. Heublein also held American import and distribution rights to non-alcoholic beverages such as Perrier mineral water and Rose's Lime Juice.

Heublein's line of pre-mixed alcoholic cocktails included traditional drinks like Manhattans, martinis, stingers, sidecars, and daiquiris, as well as trendier drinks such as the popular Brass Monkey, Star Stream Tiki and Hobo's Wife. In 1969, Heublein began selling some of these cocktails in eight-ounce cans. In the 1970s, Heublein introduced a new line of drinks named "Malcolm Hereford's Cow". This was a flavored, 30-proof alcoholic milk drink that was mostly popular with women and college students regardless of gender.[2] It enjoyed a brief fad before vanishing into obscurity.

Heublein purchased Hamm's Brewery in 1968, selling it to Olympia Brewing Company in the 1970s.

It also made many acquisitions outside of the liquor market, acquiring Grey Poupon in 1936, Kentucky Fried Chicken in 1971, and Hart's Bakeries in 1972. In 1969, Heublein purchased a majority stake in United Vintners, which owned Inglenook, for $100 million. That same year, Heublein also purchased Beaulieu Vineyards for $8.5 million.[3] These acquisitions gave Heublein one of the largest winemaking operations in the United States.

Heublein owned the fast-food chain KFC in the 1970s.

Acquisition and Selloff[edit]

In 1982, the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company acquired Heublein Inc. for $1.4 billion. In the corporate reorganizations that followed the merger of R.J. Reynolds and Nabisco, the resulting corporation, RJR Nabisco, began selling off many of Heublein's assets. RJR Nabisco sold Kentucky Fried Chicken to Pepsico in 1986 and sold the Heublein division and its alcoholic beverage brands to Grand Metropolitan in 1987.[4] In 1995, RJ Reynolds sold the Ortega Mexican foods product line.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Blue, Anthony (2004). The Complete Book of Spirits: A Guide to Their History, Production, and Enjoyment. HarperCollins. p. 336. ISBN 978-0-06-054218-4. 
  2. ^ "Modern Living: Cows with a Kick". Time. 1976-04-19. 
  3. ^ Steven Kolpan (1999). A Sense Of Place. Psychology Press. p. 97. 
  4. ^ Hicks, Jonathan (1987-01-17). "Grand met to buy nabisco's heublein". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-19.