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The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle: Why Not?

By M Dee Dubroff     Aug 6, 2007 in Lifestyle
Where is the largest bottle of the ketchup in the world and why doesn’t it stand near the world’s largest plate of French fries? Read on and learn about the first and longest surviving example of roadside art in America today.
In Collinsville, Illinois, stands the world’s largest (and only) ketchup bottle /water tower. At 170 feet high, it is the tallest monument dedicated to America’s favorite tomato sauce. Experts calculate that this bottle could hold enough catsup for 25 million hamburgers. The story of the tower’s inception is a tall tale in the truest sense of the word and dates back to 1891 and a local cannery, among whose products was catsup.
The company was bought out in 1908 by the Brooks Brothers (not of clothing fame) and renamed. They were renown for their rich and tangy Brooks catsup. Even though the name of the company changed twice more, the catsup moniker remained the same. In 1949, when a new water tower was needed to supply the plant, as well as the fire sprinkler system, it was suggested that it be built in the shape of one of their tapered catsup bottles.
The water tower with a capacity for 100,000 gallons provided relief for the local water reserves and cost $23,926 to complete. It was repainted red in 1954. The plant ceased bottling operations in 1963, but the tower was maintained and painted again. Progress away from manufacturing caused the tower to fall into disrepair in the 1980s and it became a target for graffiti artists every time it was repainted.
Local residents who undertook a "save our bottle" campaign in 1993, were horrified to find out the parent company wanted nothing to do with the bottle or preserving it. The campaign not only kept the bottle upright, and with a fresh new coat of paint, but in 2002 it was named to the national register of historic places.
Got some fries?
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