The hunt for more information about this green, 2-piece-cup bottom bottle started with the word “Bitterquelle”. I thought the embossed letters on the base was another word for “bitters”, as in a cocktail mix, but it turns out that bitterquelle is actually a mineral or spring water.
The mineral water bottle company belonged to Andreas Saxlehner of Budapest, Hungary. His brand “Hunyadi Janos” features a Hungarian military hero on the label. Hunyadi Janos, or John Hunyadi, was a military and political leader for the Hungarian military during the 15th century. Outnumbered 2 to 1 in a battle against the Ottomans, Hunyadi escaped from the battlefield to be captured, imprisoned, and eventually set free. He became governor in 1446 and continued to finance wars against the Ottomans.
The marketing campaign for the mineral water took the form of a dietary and health-conscious laxative. The claim was that the mineral water was for fighting “the evil consequences of indiscretion in diet,” and was a primary elixir for relieving hemorrhoids. Perhaps this campaign is a play on words for “diet of Hungary” which was a Hungarian legislative institution that met once every 3 years. Saxlehner’s marketing is so funny. A man known for fighting Ottomans is also on your side to fight constipation and IBS.
These mineral water bottles were a popular import and were commonly found in the United States between 1870 and 1920. The bottle that I examined in the lab was in pretty good condition. Even some of the paper label glue was still intact. This hunt for more information made me interested in 1900’s marketing campaigns and how we use romanticized images of the past to sell just about anything.