The Brand That Might Have Invented 6-Pack Beers

Packing beers six-to-a-sack may have been the first step in developing the now ubiquitous six-pack of beer. In 1940, a little-known beer company called Jax Brewing Co. decided to buy 100,000 burlap bags that could hold six Jax beers per bag. They sold the six-to-a-sack packs of beer for $1.29 each.

According to The Florida Times-Union, Jax Beer got its start in 1914 in Jacksonville, FL, and it soon became popular across the Southeast. It scrambled to survive through Prohibition, but once that was repealed in 1933, Jax Brewing thrived once again, producing more than 100,000 barrels of beer a year.

Marketing under the slogan, "The Drink of Friendship," Jax Brewing Co. laid claim as the first to package and sell multiple beers at once right about the time that cans were beginning to be used over bottles (per First Coast News). However, Jax Beer's six-to-a-sack packs still used bottles over the newly popular cans. Those very cans, meant to be easier for customers to manage, actually turned out to be Jax Beer's demise due to cost, which larger national distributing competitors were able to write off more easily than the regional Jax Brewing Co.

Did the six-to-a-sack idea really launch the six-pack?

The claim to six-pack fame is paved with multiple contenders who challenge the notion that Jax Beer was first to invent the six-pack. Conduit Street says Baltimore, not Jacksonville, is the birthplace of the six-pack. The blog claims that Baltimore's beloved National Bohemian Beer came up with the nation's first six-pack before it was purchased by the Pabst Brewing Company. That's corroborated by The Explore Baltimore Heritage team but is contested further south by the good folks at Coca-Cola.

By Coca-Cola's records, company founder Asa Candler deserves the credit for inventing the six-pack, thanks to a carton he fashioned in 1923 to make carrying six bottles of Coke at a time easy for customers. According to Yahoo! Finance, the point was to get customers to take Coke home and keep it in what was becoming a more regular household item: the refrigerator. Capitalizing on the new mass production of domestic refrigerators, Coca-Cola developed a carrying case so customers would enjoy drinking more Coke than ever, chilled from the convenience of their own kitchen appliance.

While the final word on six-pack inception still depends on who you ask, the final word on Jax Beer was cast in the '70s when it was discontinued. It was purchased by the same brewing company that eventually purchased Pabst, and, alas, would not go down in history books as a comeback kid. However, in its glory days it reigned supreme across the Southeast.