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The (not so) brief history of Jeppson's Malort

1865 - Carl Jeppson is born in the province of Skane, Sweden.

1867- D.J. Bielzoff opens a distillery in Chicago.

Mid - 1880’s- Carl Jeppson emigrates from Ystad, Sweden, to Chicago’s Swedish area near Clyborn/Division. He marries and opens a modest cigar manufacturing business on Division, which he will run until about 1920.

1909- George Broide (later changed to Brode) is born in Chicago.

1920’s - Evidence implies that Carl Jeppson may have first started selling his “bäskbrännvin” (a traditional Swedish-style of bitters) as a medicinal or bootlegged liquor during prohibition.

1933 - George Brode graduates from Northwestern University’s law school. Due to the Great Depression, he takes a job working for his wife’s family business, the D.J. Bielzoff Products Co. (located at 11th and State), which is gearing up for the repeal of prohibition.

1934 - Jeppson’s Malort as we know it is first produced.

1934-36 - At some point during this period, Bielzoff Products purchases the recipe for Malort from Carl Jeppson. They begin to sell it in a stoneware jug as part of their Red Horse line of liqueurs and cordials.

1945 - George Brode, vice president of Bielzoff, buys out the company shortly before the end of World War II. “Jeppson’s Swedish-Style Brannvin” is now sold in a glass bottle with a stem of wormwood inside.

1947-48- George changes the name of the company to the Red Horse Liquors, after Bielzoff’s successful line of Red Horse Liqueurs.

1949 - Carl Jeppson dies in his family’s apartment in Edgewater. His funeral is held at Nelson’s Funeral Home at Foster/Ashland and he is cremated at Graceland Cemetery. His ashes were presumably scattered.

1953 - George Brode sells Red Horse Liquors and keeps Malort. He forms the Carl Jeppson Co. and begins a 40-year hobby marketing it.

1954- According to a Sun-Times column by Irv Kupcinet, George Brode is decorated in Sweden by King Gustav VI Adolf for helping to preserve Swedish culture.

1966- Patricia Gabelick is hired as George’s legal secretary (she is completely unaware of his liquor company side project).

1970’s- The “Are you man enough?” bottle-hanger is introduced. It contains a brief introduction along with fictional recipes for Jeppson’s Malört-based cocktails, like the Nordic Peril.

1986 - The Mar-Salle Distillery in Chicago, which had produced Malort since 1953, closes. There are no distilleries left in Chicago to make Jeppson’s Malort.

1987-1989 - After two years of production by a Kentucky bourbon company, it becomes unprofitable for them to continue producing Jeppson’s Malört’s small volume. Luckily, an old connection from Mar-Salle helps George find Florida Distillers in Lake Alfred, Fla., and they agree to takes over production in 1989. Also during this time, it becomes too expensive to continue putting a stem of wormwood in every bottle.

1998- George’s health declines and all advertising stops, including the “Are you man enough?” bottle-hangers.

1999 - Brode dies, leaving the company to his secretary, Pat Gabelick.

2012 - Malort begins its first social media push and launches official website

 SOURCE: Peter Strom

Copyright © 2015, RedEye
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