Rheingold Beer, introduced in 1883, is a New York beer that held 35 percent of the state's beer market at its peak. The company was sold by the founding Jewish American Liebmann family in 1963. According to the New York Times, "Rheingold Beer was once a top New York brew guzzled regularly by a loyal cadre of workingmen who would just as soon have eaten nails as drink another beer maker's suds." Its VP-Technical Joseph Owades claims credit for Rheingold's developing the first light beer.
Rheingold shut down operations in 1976, when they were unable to compete with the large national breweries, as corporate consolidation and the rise of national breweries led to the demise of dozens of regional breweries.
In 1940, Philip Liebmann, great-grandson of the founder, Samuel Liebmann, started the "Miss Rheingold" pageant as the centerpiece of its marketing campaign. Beer drinkers voted each year on the young lady who would be featured as Miss Rheingold in advertisements. In the 1940s and 1950s in New York, "the selection of Miss Rheingold was as highly anticipated as the race for the White House." The first Miss Rheingold was Spanish-born Jinx Falkenburg. When Nat King Cole became the first major black entertainer to host a television show, advertisers stayed away--but not Rheingold; Rheingold was the New York regional sponsor for Cole's show. As early as 1965, Rheingold aired television ads featuring African American, Puerto Rican and Asian actors, to appeal to its racially diverse customer base. The company's headquarters was in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Rheingold was the official beer of the New York Mets, and its advertisements featured John Wayne, Jackie Robinson, Sarah Vaughan and the Marx Brothers. They also sponsored The Jackie Robinson Show which aired on 660 WRCA radio in New York City on Sunday evenings between 6:30 and 7 PM during the late 1950s and early 1960s.
The company shut down four years after the construction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center was completed. During the cleanup of the WTC site following the collapse of the towers on September 11, 2001, numerous Rheingold beer cans were found in the rubble, having been hidden in the beams of the building decades earlier by construction workers who had drunk the beers on the job. Coincidently, exactly 12 years before the 9/11 attack, on 11 September 11, 1989, the New York Times had published an article that included an old (circa 1960s) radio jingle for Rheingold beer:
My beer is Rheingold, the dry beer.
Think of Rheingold whenever you buy beer.
It's not bitter, not sweet; it's the dry flavored treat.
Won't you try extra dry Rheingold beer?
According to an October 18, 1999 New York Observer article, Mike Mitaro's Rheingold Brewing Company LLC bought the brand in 1998. Walter Liebmann, a director of the new company, is a relative of Rheingold's founding family. When Rheingold re-launched, they revived the Miss Rheingold pageant. The new Miss Rheingold contestants no longer wore ball gowns and white gloves--"They had tattoos. They were pierced. They were badasses." In 2003, The Village Voice noted Rheingold for "the best marketing campaign co-opting hipster drinking habits." In 2004, Rheingold stirred controversy in New York City with a series of ads which mock New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on smoking in bars and enforcement of city laws which prohibit dancing in bars which do not have a "cabaret license." Bloomberg responded by drinking Coors in public.
In 2005, Drinks Americas of Wilton Ct., whose brands include Trump Vodka and Dr. Dre Cognac, purchased Rheingold Brewing. Drinks Americas has reformulated the Rheingold product for follow through distribution throughout the US. The date of the release is currently unknown. A reformulated Rheingold beer was introduced to the New York Metropolitan market, as well as Cincinnati, Ohio and Georgia, in August 2010.
Les Paul recorded a very popular radio commercial for Rheingold in 1951. Humorist and radio personality Jean Shepherd was the radio spokesman for Rheingold's radio ads on New York Mets broadcasts in the 1970s.
In the original Gidget movie, circa 1959, the Cliff Robertson character and Gidget (Sandra Dee) drink from cans of Rheingold beer, I'm pretty sure that beer was at the time strictly a NY beer, and never distributed to California.
In the 1956 Requiem for a Heavyweight, the character played by Anthony Quinn is in a bar and the woman who has been looking for him to be a counselor at a camp wants to have a beer and the bartender brings them two bottles of Rheingold.
In the 1959 film It Happened to Jane, newspaper reporter Matilda Runyon drinks Rheingold at home and warns her husband Clarence to stay away from her beer supply.
In the first episode of "Ro.Go.Pa.G." (1963) the man on the flight speaks about Rheingold girls to the hostess, and he asks her only for a Rheingold Beer.
In the film Cops and Robbers (1973), the lead character Joe has a pool-side television encased in a protective Rheinghold TV wrapper.
In the film Sophie's Choice (1982), Nathan Landau throws a Rheingold beer to Stingo.
In the film Silver Bullet (1985), Arnie Westrum is first seen singing a drunken rendition of the Rheingold beer song.
In the film A Bronx Tale (1993), a Rheingold beer neon sign can be seen in the window of the Chez Bippy corner bar, as several men are lined up by the police following a neighborhood shooting.
In the film Quiz Show (1994), A neighbor of quiz champion Herb Stempel is seen holding a bottle of Rheingold beer as Stempel returns home from a television appearance.
In the movie Just Looking (1999), which takes place in 1955, Rheingold beer and advertisements are shown throughout.
In the movie "If Beale Street Could Talk" (2018) Fonny and Danny are seen drinking a 6-pack Of Reingold Dry beer.
In the song "Never Sweet, Never Bitter" by Rudebrat you will find fragments of old (1957/1958) advertisement texts spoken (possibly sampled from old TV ads), "... and that's quite right, too, folks, because every glass, every bottle, every can of Rheingold is as perfect as the one before. Pleasantly dry, perfect (...?) too. Never sweet, never bitter." which they also used to name the song.
In the summer 2011 edition of San Francisco Opera's The Ring of the Nibelung (a cycle of four related operas by German composer Richard Wagner), the character Wotan, who represents the main Germanic god, sips from a can of Rheingold Beer. It is an homage to Das Rheingold, one of the Ring operas, and a direct reference to the legendary gold in the Rhine River, of which the Ring of the Nibelungs is fashioned.
The history of the Rheingold Girl contest is recounted in Wally Lamb's I'll Take You There (Harper 2016).
In the Donald Barthelme story "A shower of gold" (1964), the main character Peterson is said to be drinking Rheingold and thinking about the president.
The December, 1955, issue of "Crazy, Man, Crazy" (magazine)- from Humor Magazines, Inc. aka Charlton Comics (#1), has a parody of Miss Rheingold, featuring bulldogs as pageant contestants, wherein the readers are asked to "Choose Miss Rheinghoul of 1956."
In a 1992 episode of The Golden Girls (season 7, episode 24), Sophia, Blanche, and Dorothy sang the Rheingold Beer theme song lyrics to the tune of Emil Waldteufel's "Estudiantina Valse" (The Students' Waltz), op. 191, No. 4; .[which?] Sophia commented to her daughter, Dorothy, "Your father was always singing that damn jingle."
In the "Hi Def Jam" episode of King of Queens, Doug and his friends are all seen drinking Rheingold while playing poker.
In the "Animal Attraction" episode of King of Queens, Holly tells Carrie that she's used to "drinking Reingold out of a funnel" when Carrie advises her to slow down on the martinis.
In Public Morals season 1, episode 1 several bottles of Rheingold beer can be seen on the table at the bar.