The National Drink

Looking for a suitable Thanksgiving beverage, I happened to see the patriotic gentleman above enjoying his cup of Turkey Brand Coffee and I thought, “I’ll have what he’s having.”

I love it when brand names include the word “brand,” but why (I wondered) was this brand named Turkey?

Is it a just a homographic pun about Turkish coffee? The vintage “Turkey Brand” tin on the right is from a 2005 auction. Under the turkey illustration and above the word “coffee” is the word, “roasted.” Is that the connection? That both coffee and turkeys get roasted on occasion?

The images above are from the 1900 promotional postcard shown below. (from Miami University Libraries, Ohio) 

The combination of Uncle Sam and a box of Turkey Brand coffee serves to remind us of two things…

1. that as much as the holiday is about gratitude, it’s still an American holiday so that even though our “national drink” is imported from other countries, we must appear to have named it after an indigenous species of bird.

2. that Uncle Sam had enviably thick hair. (Or is hair-envy an unseemly display of ingratitude on this, our day of Thanksgiving?)

The postcard also features a badly explained optical illusion. (I don’t know about you, but focusing on two places simultaneously is a problem for me.)

I was thankful, however, for the opportunity to read some of Uncle Sam’s poetry…


Take this from me, my people dear,
If you’d keep war away
And fill the land with peace and cheer
Do just what I say:

I know a beverage full of charm,
There’s magic in the cup
To cure all ills, to keep from harm,
Drink when you dine or sup.

Drink deep of Kasper’s Turkey Brand
And pretty soon you’ll think,
’Tis bliss to do what I command
And take the Nation’s drink.

–Uncle Sam

See also: Turkey Bottle and Campbell’s Thanksgiving

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