|Conner Bottling Works
The Conner family has continued a time honored tradition that dates back to the Civil War. From the landmark Conner Bottling Works, in Newfields, New Hampshire, the Conner Family has for the past five generations been producing and bottling "Squamscot Old Fashioned Beverages". Known more commonly today as a tonic or soda, the many flavors of Squamscot Beverages has been quenching the thirst of New Englander's for more than one hundred and forty one years.
Established in 1863 by the late William H. Conner, the bottling works started producing tonic that was simply called "Connermade". This tonic, which was really a "pop" beer or more commonly known as a spruce beer at the time, was packaged in returnable glass bottles with porcelain and wire stoppers. William Conner grew the business until his death in 1911. Only to be succeded by his son Alfred Conner Sr., who ran the business from 1911-1948, followed by Alfred Conner Jr. who was raised around the bottling plant, which is located on the family farm. A two-story, gray and white building constructed in the 1800's that was once a barn and is located directly behind the family home.
In 1911 the business was producing just 4,115 cases of tonic a year. While small profits were made from 1912 to 1916 the business has enjoyed an unbroken time of prosperity since 1917. Especially during the years of National Prohibition that created a great boost in the tonic business and made Squamscot Gingerale the outstanding drink in New England. Growing the bottling works to nearly 26,000 cases and 14 flavors in 1930, when the label was finally changed to "Squamscot Beverages". In 1938, Alfred Conner Sr. purchased their first modern bottling machine. Better known today as, "Dixie". This bottling machine remains in the exact spot from when it was delivered to the plant and is still in use today.
As Word War II started Alfred Conner Jr. left the homestead and served for four years in the Navy, only to return and run the business from 1948 to 1979, and can still be seen strolling around the plant even today. The operation is now run by Alfred's son Tom, and his son Dan Conner. Trying to keep with tradition, and personally delivering their Squamscot Beverages to customers around the Seacoast. They use a couple of distributors for other parts of New Hampshire.
A unique feature and one that few bottling companies have in this country is the presence of an artesian well within the plant. Many years ago Alfred Sr. conceived the idea of having the well within the plant, even though there was a satisfactory supply piped in from the outside. So he drilled for the well and eventually sank one at 123 feet. The water flow into the well is twenty gallons per minute and the water is reputed to be of super quality. One reason Alfred Sr. attributed the great success of his tonics, is due to this splendid water supply.
While on the second floor a smell reminiscent of melting popsicles greets visitors in the rustic but impeccably clean and ordered syrup room, where the main laboratory for manufacturing and mixing of the syrup recipes are generated and have been passed down for generations. From the 20 plus vibrant colored flavors developed by the Conner's over the years, only the best products, like Jamaican ginger for the Gingerale, are used to help ensure their distinct taste.
Within the syrup room a 60-gallon glass lined steel tank is used as a pasteurizer. Steam cooking sugar and water to a temperature of 180 degrees and allowed to remain for a certain length of time, before the correct amount of extract is added. This process assures an "even" quality of sweetness and does much to assure quality for the simple syrup.
The last step is a homespun example of quality testing and control. The bottles are plucked from the collection table and tipped end over end to thoroughly mix the ingredients. Every once in while a bottles is opened and tasted to ensure the quality of the batch stays consistent. Each bottle is then hand placed in cases ready for shipping and distribution.
Getting ready to celebrate their 142nd year in business, and recognized as one of "New Hampshire's Own" the Conner family continues it's tradition of making Squamscot Old Fashioned Beverages as the last independent bottler in the state of New Hampshire. They hope you can "Experience the Past... One Sip at a Time"!