Though not nearly as famous aside from its association with the creation of Mountain Dew, and Tri-City Beverage, the origin and story of the Tip soft drink is mostly unknown to the population in general, and even to soda collectors apart from its association with Mountain Dew during the Tip Corporation era. I have been collecting Tip bottles almost as long as I have been collecting Mountain Dew bottles, and a few things have left me scratching my head like references to Tip Orange in Dick Bridgforth's book, and the Tip Cola bottle caps that have been floating around. So I decided to create this page for the researching and telling of the story of the brand that due to its very existence shaped the future of the wildly popular Mountain Dew as we know it today.

The Tip trademark was first registered on February 8, 1921 by Joseph Lee Wood who owned the Orange Tip Co. located at 2551 Ave. E, Bessemer, Alabama. Apparently he had been using the trademark since May 24, 1920. The Trademark was signed over to a W. C. Clutter on April 26, 1939, who signed the trademark over to the Charlotte Gary Beverage Company on May 3, 1939. The Tip that we are most familiar with was created by the Gary Beverage Company, which is owned by J. N. Gary, Jr., in 1938.(2) The Tip trademark was signed over to the Charlotte Gary Beverage Company by W. C. Clutter on May 3, 1939. Much of what I have found so far deals not with the parent company, but with one of its offspring, namely the Tip Bottling Company of High Point, NC. This branch was originally ran by Fred B. Gary, who was replaced by Frank L. Lewis as Manager as reported by the High Point Enterprise of July 15, 1941.(1) It appears the Fred B. Gary went to Birmingham, Alabama to start another branch Tip Bottling plant.(1) The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 eventually brought a halt to the production of Tip in Birmingham, Alabama.(2) They also had plants in Raleigh, Greenville, and Charlotte, NC.(2)

An article from the High Point Enterprise of January 12, 1942 mentions that the company is bottling Tip and Tip-O (1), I can only assume that this Tip-O is the "Tip Orange" that is referred to by Dick Bridgeforth in his Mountain Dew books.(3) This is the first time that I have found any period reference that stated that the Gary Beverage Company developed anything other than the Tip Grape that would eventually be bought, and franchised by Clay Church later in the decade. In the May 11th, 1942 edition of the High Point Enterprise I finally found a reference, and an ad, for one of my questions pertaining to Tip, that question being "what is Tip Cola, and is it actually related to Tip Grape?". The aforementioned article is about Frank Lewis' new program that allowed employees to buy war savings stamps from a percentage of their salary earned, but at the end it mentions that Tip Cola, for which High Point, NC was the proving ground (aka test market), was meeting with growing demand.(1) At the bottom of the page was an ad for the same referring to the "New Sensation". Tip Cola was introduced to it's test market of High Point North Carolina in an interesting way. Jim Steele promoter and the general manager of the Hippodrome, along with Frank L. Lewis Manager of the Tip Bottling Company decided to get together to promote a wrestling bout to the High Point area. Lewis, through the Tip Bottling Company paid part of the admission into the contest, and of course this bout would also be the introduction of Tip Cola to High Point, NC.

The trademark was transferred to J. N. Gary, Jr. himself on September 16, 1942. Gary transfers the trademark to N. S. Forester, Jr on July 6, 1944. The Tip Corporation of America was incorporated on July 18, 1944, with Clay F. Church as President, C. C. Lincoln, Jr. as first Vice President, J. D. Lincoln as Second Vice president, all of Marion, VA, and N. S. Forester, Jr. as Secretary-Treasurer. Clay Church, who was from North Carolina and remembered the brand from there, wanted to market the brand against another very popular soda, Grapette. As to what happened to cause this buy out when things seemed to be going so well for the company in the early 1940's is hard to tell, but most likely America's entry into World War II and the shortages that caused many plants to close during the war years, may have had something to do with it. The brand never really took off under the Tip Corporation, and in 1958 the Tip Corporation re-structured with Bill Jones, who had been hired to run the company in 1945, as President. One of the new partners in the company used a trademark as part of their buy in, this trademark was Mountain Dew. Originally a Lithiated Lemon soda much like 7-up, Bill Jones was forced to reformulate the brand to its modern flavor in the early 1960ís. Due to the overwhelming success of this new formula Pepsi-Cola purchased the entirety of the Tip Corporation and moved it to Arlington, VA by way of the Marion Bottling Company of Marion, VA which was the nearest Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company in the area. Tip was shelved in favor of its much more successful brother, and this is where it is today. I personally would love to see the brand revived by Pepsi; however, that is very doubtful after all this time. For a more in-depth look at the Tip Corporation of Marion, VA then check out my page dedicated to the company here.

An Orange Tip label from the Orange Tip company of Bessemer, Ala.

6oz Tip bottle from Gary Beverage Company dated 1938

A Gary Beverage letterhead

6oz Tip bottle from Gary Beverage Company dated 1939

6oz Tip bottle from the Tip Bottling Company dated 1940. This one has no acl on the neck.

6oz Tip bottle from the Tip Bottling Company dated 1940. This one does have the acl on the neck.

Here we have a Tip bottle crate, which due to the size and thinness of the glass in the bottles is actually about four inches shorter than your standard soda crate, while holding thirty bottles instead of just twenty four.

6oz Tip bottle from the Tip Bottling Company dated 1941

An ad introducing Tip Cola from May 11, 1942

6oz Tip bottle no company name listed dated 1942

One of the wrestlers is pictured above holding a six pack of Tip for a photo shoot. From my research I think I can safely say that this "Angel" is Phil Olafsson otherwise known as the Swedish Angel, who suffered from a disfiguring disease known as Acromegaly.(4) A modern example of a sufferer of this disease would be Andre The Giant.(4) It appears that Olafsson wrestled the majority of his career in the Midwest(4), but apparently he was paid to come to High Point, NC for this bout.

6oz Tip bottle no company name listed dated 1943

A different ad for Tip Cola

Tip Cola bottle cap from Fayetteville, NC

7oz Tip bottle from the Tip Bottling Company dated 1943

6oz Tip bottle from The Tip Corporation dated 1945. This is the earliest date I've seen for the Tip Corporation bottles.

An ad for Tip from May 1946

6oz Tip bottle from The Tip Corporation dated 1946

Regular Tip bottle cap from Raleigh, NC

6oz Tip bottle from Tip Beverage Co. of Biloxi, Miss. dated 1946

An ad for Tip from July 1947

6oz Tip bottle dated 1947, note that this variation has an orange peel texture on the neck and the heel that resembles a Grapette bottle.

Bottle cap from the collection of David Hunt, photo by David Hunt
Tip-O bottle cap from Raleigh, NC. Itís pretty obvious given the color of this cap that my assumption about Tip-O being an orange flavor was dead on.

6oz Tip bottle dated 1947, this variation is smooth with no texture at all.

6oz Tip bottle dated 1947, this variation is interesting due to its having two lines on the top of the main label and four on the bottom instead of the more common three and five.

Tip Grape Soda bottle cap bottled by the "authority of the Tip Corporation of Marion, VA"

6oz Tip bottle from Forester Beverage Co. of North Wilkesboro, NC dated 1947

6oz Tip bottle from Tip Beverage Corp. of Charlotte, NC dated 1947

6oz Tip bottle dated 1948

6oz Tip bottle from the Tip Bottling Company of Cheraw, SC dated 1948

10oz Tip bottle from the Tip Bottling Company of Asheville, NC dated 1948

10oz Tip bottle from the Tip Bottling Company of Greenville, NC dated 1949

A June 19, 1942 ad for Tip

An interesting twist in the Tip story comes post Pepsi acquisition. It appears that around 1981 for some reason Pepsi renewed the trademark registration for Tip and the label above was included in the renewal. The interesting part is that the label isn't for Tip Grape but Tip Citrus Soda, which begs the question, was there some reason that the Tip name was being transferred to what appears to have been the Mountain Dew formula? Maybe the explanation had something to do with the name Mountain Dew itself, as it is a slang term for alcohol, and in order to sell Mountain Dew in certain areas they had to drop the controversial name for Tip. The story may never be known, but it's great to ponder the reason.

This page is only part of a much larger site. To see the rest then just click TAZEWELL-ORANGE.COM and the contents on this site are copyrighted by Joseph T. Lee III except where otherwise noted see Terms of Use.


(1) High Point Enterprise 1941 & 1942

(2) "TIP Baby's" father shares Gary Beverage Co. history" By Bill Baab

(3) "Mountain Dew: The History" By Dick Bridgforth, Copyright 2007 by Richlard Bridgforth

(4) Billco's Old School Wrestling: The Swedish Angel, Phil Olafsson, Photos