NEHI / ROYAL CROWN BOTTLING COMPANY OF EAST TENNESSEE / JOHNSON CITY CUSTOM CANNERS

On February 7, 1929 the East Tennessee Chero-Cola Bottling Company changes its name to the Nehi Bottling Company and incorporates as such.(3) The board of directors for this new corporation consist of Scott E. Cunningham President/Treasurer, Leslie R. Driver as Vice President/Secretary, Clarence H. "Fox" Drinkard, who owns the Fox Drinkard Bottling Company in Bristol, VA, Samuel W. Williams, and A. B. Crouch.(3) The company is located in the same building at 212 West Market Street as East Tennessee Chero-Cola Bottling Company had been.(1) Clarence H. ďFoxĒ Drinkard was manager of a distribution warehouse for the company located at 106 State Street, Bristol, Tennessee.(4) The Nehi Bottling Company appears to be located at 226 West Market Street in 1930 (1); however, the Sanborn maps show that this is just a shift in the street numbers, and they are still located in the same building. The corporation changes its name to the Cunningham Beverage Company on April 13, 1931 apparently due to their losing the Nehi franchise for some reason.(3)

The Nehi Bottling Corporation is incorporated on May 1, 1931 with William C. Adams as President/General Manager, Harry T. Berger as Vice President/Secretary, and H. T. Hauron listed.(3) The company is located at 247 West Market Street, which was the location of the East Tennessee Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company earlier that year; however, by 1935 they have moved across the street to 244 West Market Street.(1) On February 4, 1941 the Appalachian Beverage Company is incorporated with Harry T. Berger, Griffen Adams, and William C. Adams listed, and the corporation is listed as being located at 304 West Market Street.(3) This corporation was created to handle the distribution of alcoholic beverages for the Nehi Bottling Corporation which has also moved to this new location. The number one brand of beer they distributed was Red Top Ale from Cincinnati Ohio.

On November 2, 1942 the Nehi Corporation of Johnson City sells all of their equipment at both Johnson City Tennessee and Bristol, VA to the Royal Crown Bottling Company of Knoxville, Tennessee for the sum of one dollar.(3) This suggests a possible connection between the two corporations. I would appear that the stresses of World War II sugar rationing and its effect on the bottling industry were too much for the company as it was for many of the same. According to artifact evidence the company started purchasing bottles with Royal Crown Bottling Company of Johnson City, Tenn on them, but it took a year for the new corporation to be filed.

On February 21, 1944 the Royal Crown Bottling Company of East Tennessee was incorporated with J. M. Walker, associated with Royal Crown Bottling of Knoxville, Calvin Holmes, and S. F. Fowler listed.(3) The corporation was still located at 305 West Market Street. Even though it isnít noted, Iím assuming that J. M. Walker is President of this new corporation, but it is Lee Dolph Brown, who in 1944 is listed as Manager of the company that would become the face of the corporation, and soon Vice President. By 1954 Lee D. Brown is now President of the Royal Crown Bottling Company of East Tennessee.(3)

On March 11, 1960 the Royal Crown Bottling Company of Johnson City is incorporated with W. W. Davis listed. The Royal Crown Bottling Company of East Tennessee, President Lee D. Brown, signs over the deed to all of the companyís assets to the new corporation.(3) The Royal Crown Bottling Company of East Tennesseeís charter isnít dissolved until September 11, 1970 (3) after the death of Lee D. Brown on February 15, 1970. Was it still operating a plant somewhere besides Johnson City? The Royal Crown Bottling Company of Johnson City operates until being merged into the Dick Broadcasting Company on January 9, 1968.(3)

This new corporation purchases the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company to acquire the Dr. Pepper franchise on December 23, 1968.(2) Then the company purchases land at Route 3 Mountain View Road on July 31, 1969 on which it builds a new plant which has the capability to produce soft drinks in cans as well as bottles.(3) Aside from the Royal Crown/Dr. Pepper Bottling Company a new company was formed by the name of Johnson City Custom Canners.(5) This new operation advertised the production of Dr. Pepper, Diet Rite Cola, Royal Crown Cola, Nehi Flavors, and the Fontana flavor line.(5) Most of the cans I have seen state that they were produced by the Royal Crown Bottling Company of Johnson City; however, the Fontana can says Custom Beverage Packers of Johnson City, Tennessee, and is the only reference to an alternative company name I know of.

Unfortunately the reason for this growth was taken away on July 7, 1972 by the Rice Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company which had acquired the Dr. Pepper franchise for the Johnson City area.(2) The Royal Crown Bottling Company leases the building at 304 West Main Street on February 20, 1973 with George William Day listed as General Manager.(3) In 1979 they are listed in the city directory as the Metro RCA Division of the Royal Crown Bottling Company of Cookeville Tennessee, and in 1980 have moved to a new location on New Jonesboro Highway only to close by 1985.(1) That is the history of the Nehi/Royal Crown Bottling Company in Johnson City.





This is the first location for the Nehi Bottling Company in Johnson City 226 West Market 1929-1931



This is the first location for the Nehi Bottling Company in Johnson City 247 West Market 1931-1935



The second location for the Nehi Bottling Company was at 244 West Market Street 1935-1941



The final location for the Nehi Bottling Company was at 305 West Market Street from 1941-1969 and 1973-1980. This picture is taken from Main Street; however, the building has entrances on both Main and Market.



Nehi Root Beer bottle cap from Johnson City, Tennessee







From the collection of Geff Moore, photo by Joseph Lee
12oz late 1930's Royal Crown Cola acl & embossed bottle



Paper label from the Nehi Bottling Company of Johnson City, Tennessee







From the collection of Tommy Fouch, photo by Joseph Lee
12oz Royal Crown Cola bottle dated 1939







From the collection of Geff Moore, photo by Joseph Lee
7oz Upper 10 bottle dated 1939







12oz Royal Crown Cola bottle dated 1940







From the collection of Geff Moore, photo by Joseph Lee
12oz Nehi bottle dated 1940







6oz Chero bottle from the Nehi Bottling Company of Johnson City, Tenn.







From the collection of Geff Moore, photo by Joseph Lee
7oz Nehi bottle dated 1942







12oz Royal Crown Cola bottle dated 1942







6oz Chero bottle dated 1943









From the collection of Geff Moore, photo by Joseph Lee
7oz Nehi Bottle dated 1944







6oz Chero bottle from the 1940's









12oz Royal Crown Cola Bottle dated 1945









6oz Chero Bottle dated 1946









6oz Chero Bottle dated 1947. I find it odd that there is a acl and an embossed Chero from this company.









7oz Nehi Bottle dated 1947







From the collection of Geff Moore, photo by Joseph Lee
7oz Upper 10 bottle dated 1953







7oz Upper 10 bottle dated with Royal Crown Bottling Company of East Tennessee 1953









10oz Royal Crown Cola Bottle dated 1955









10oz red & yellow label Nehi Bottle dated 1957









10oz red & white label Nehi Bottle dated 1957. Looks like 1957 was the transition year from Red and Yellow labels to Red and White labels.







10oz Upper 10 Bottle dated 1959









10oz red & white label Nehi Bottle dated 1959







10oz Nehi Bottle dated 1960







Two 10oz Nehi Bottles dated 1962







10oz Kick Bottle dated 1966



The August 29, 1971 ad from the Kingsport Times News.







From the collection of Geff Moore, photo by Joseph Lee
Fontana Grape can with Custom Beverage Packers of Johnson City, Tennessee labeled as producers







From the collection of Geff Moore, photo by Joseph Lee
A Royal Crown Cola can from the Royal Crown Bottling Company of Johnson City, TN







From the collection of Geff Moore, photo by Joseph Lee
A Nehi Root Beer can from the Royal Crown Bottling Company of Johnson City, TN







16oz University of Tennessee 1975 commemorative bottle



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Bibliography:

(1) Baldwin's Johnson City, Tenn. City Directory

(2) Johnson City Press

(3) Washington County Tennessee Court Records

(4) Hill's Bristol VA-Tenn City Directory

(5) Kingsport Times News