Monday, March 02, 2009

Herr Müller's Buffalo Mead & Other Flavors

The big snowstorm that pressed its way to the South and the East yesterday and this morning left us only a dusting of snow, so little that footprints in the snow were footprints through the snow. But March snowstorms shouldn't be underestimated. After all, the Great Blizzard of '88 (1888, that is) struck on March 12.

On the last day of February, which was sunny but cold, we stopped by the Arlington Heights Historical Museum. Arlington Heights, a largish northwestern suburb of Chicago, isn't that far from where we live, and we visit often since it's the home of Mitsuwa Marketplace. The museum is tucked away on some lesser streets near the city library, city hall, and a small park we've been to (see BTST May 10, 2005), and it's also within walking distance of the commuter rail station and Arlington Heights' suburban "downtown" that has developed around it.

Yet we'd never been. When we arrived at about 2 in the afternoon, we got the sense that a lot of people could say that. We were just in time for a tour of the place, but it wasn't as if a lot of other people were waiting around for it to begin, and we squeezed in. If we hadn't shown up, there would have been no tour at 2, unless the docent was so deeply taken with Arlington Heights history that she'd narrate to tour to no one, just for fun. Somehow I doubt it.

The nucleus of the property is the former home and business buildings of one Frederick William Müller, German immigrant and soft-drink entrepreneur of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, who founded F.W. Müller Carbonated Beverages on the site in the early 1870s and ran it until his sons took over in 1923. Sad to say -- and I confirmed this with the docent -- the successor entities to Herr Müller's operations finally expired in the early 1990s, so there is no place to sample an F.W. Müller (later, Arlington Club brand) Lemon Sour, Klondike Fizz, Buffalo Mead (?) or Cream Soda, among others.

Google "Buffalo Mead" and you turn up a few fleeting references -- such as here and here, if you read carefully. It sounds like something that 19th-century Americans would have been completely familiar with, but which has left nearly no trace in our own time.



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