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Lens on History: Look! Up in the sky! Grape soda!

May 23, 2019 GMT

Vincent Velie and Richard Ryan founded the Velie-Ryan Distributing Company in 1939 when they became the agents for Blatz Beer in Rochester. In late 1941, they received the account for G. Heileman Brewing Co. In early 1942, Vincent Velie’s number came up in the draft.

Vincent never returned to Rochester, and Norma Ryan, Richard’s wife, became the company’s vice president.

After the war, and with an end to sugar rationing, soft drinks became popular again. In 1947, Velie-Ryan Bottling Company made the transition from beer to soda when they moved into the vacant Jimmy’s Roller Rink building at 35 Fourth St. SE and began bottling O-So Grape soda for the O-So Beverage Company of Peoria, Ill.


Advertising for O-So Grape was soon seen all around Rochester, including this billboard, complete with purple neon, high above the corner of South Broadway and Third Street.