Schlitz FAMO Sign, 1920s


This metal sign advertises Schlitz FAMO, a non-alcoholic drink produced by the Joseph Schlitz Beverage Company of Milwaukee during Prohibition (1920-1933). The sign touts FAMO as “a pure non-intoxicating beverage” that was both healthful and refreshing, a claim that addressed the Temperance Movement’s concerns about the ill-effects of alcohol. The sign also bears the Prohibition-era slogan, “The Famous Soft Drink [that] Made Milwaukee Famous,” an inelegant adaptation of the brewer’s popular slogan since 1893: “The Beer That Made Milwaukee Famous.” At Repeal the company resurrected its original slogan and changed its name back to its founding enterprise, the Joseph Schlitz Brewing Company.

In the period leading up to Prohibition, innovative brewers and inventors developed methods of producing non-intoxicating fermented beverages to meet growing concerns about alcohol consumption. While the exact formula for Schlitz’s FAMO is difficult to ascertain, it was likely similar to a process patented in 1917 by Carl A. Nowak of St. Louis, Missouri. The patent (No. 1,243,440) involves a process of producing a “hopped and carbonated non-intoxicating fermented beverage . . . which can be simply, rapidly and inexpensively prepared without requiring the long period of fermentation and storage commonly employed in the preparation of beer and so-called ‘temperance beer.’” Beverages like FAMO never gained a wide following as many beer drinkers turned to home brewing during the dry years of Prohibition.

Location: Currently not on view

See more items in: Work and Industry: Food Technology, Food


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Dixie Cheek

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2013.0019.01Accession Number: 2013.0019Catalog Number: 2013.0019.01

Object Name: sign

Physical Description: metal (overall material)blue (overall color)green (overall color)white (overall color)Measurements: overall: 13 in x 27 1/2 in x 1/2 in; 33.02 cm x 69.85 cm x 1.27 cm


Record Id: nmah_1439514

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.