The Clicquot Club Company, also known as Clicquot Club Beverages, pronounced “Klee-Ko” and sometimes spelled “Cliquot”, was a national beverage company that sold several varieties of soda. After 80 years of operation, the company was bought and shut down by Canada Dry in 1965.
Founded in 1881 in Millis, Massachusetts, the beverage company was built by Henry Millis from money he had received from his father Lansing Millis. The company produced mainly sparkling cider for the first few years but later on Millis would experiment in other flavors as well. The sparkling cider was soon dropped and the company began focusing mainly on ginger ale. In 1885, the town of Millis was founded in his family name. During this time the soda company hired a significant amount of the town’s residents and would continue to do so for years to come. Millis continued to improve upon his beverages through his philosophy of making the drinks as though he were making them for his own friends. He imported high-quality exotic ingredients including Jamaican ginger, and Cuban pure refined sugar. These two were the key ingredients to his ginger ale making the company stand out in this field.
Even though word of his soda spread over southeastern New England in the next few years, the cost of such fine ingredients eventually forced Henry Millis to sell his company in 1901. The new proprietors took advantage of every form of advertising, including a musical variety radio program, The Clicquot Club Eskimos, led by banjo player Harry F. Reser. Such clever marketing expanded the company until the factory in Millis became 1/3 of a mile long, even with its own private train station. The section around this massive factory became known as “Millis-Clicquot, Massachusetts.” Even with this huge building the company still staggered to meet its demand. In 1938 the company became the first to sell its beverages in a can, at this time known as a “cone-top” can, making it easier to manufacture. With the establishment of a new network of Clicquot Club Bottling Plants in 1938 the company soon had dozens of factories across the country. This number grew rapidly until in 1952 the company had plants in over 100 cities all across the United States, from Maine to California. In the 1950s the company began distributing internationally, in places such as Nassau, Jamaica, the Bahamas, virtually all of South America, and the Philippines. The company began to decline in sales worldwide thanks to other soft drinks and was purchased in 1960 by the Cott Beverage Corporation of Connecticut. By 1965, the Cott Corporation was acquired by Canada Dry, who sold off all product surplus before shutting down Clicquot. Today the original plant in Millis remains mostly abandoned, although one-third of it is (as of June 2006) occupied by garden and hardware stores. Although there has been contemplation of starting the company back up again in recent years, no attempts have ever gotten further than the drawing board.