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Uncle Jack Fultz’s Memories of Carter County: Bone Dry – What kind of beverage was this?

By: Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

When you look at most of the advertisements from the old Carter County Herald held in the pages of Uncle Jack Fultz’s scrapbook, you know exactly what they’re for. Many of them are for brands (Wrigley’s, Ford, Rexall, Kodak) that are still around today. Some of them are for brands or items that aren’t so common today, but we still know what they are. 

Then, there is Bone Dry. One thing we know about Bone Dry from the ads is that it was a beverage. The other thing we know is that “it’s wet,” because one of the ads tells us so in no uncertain terms. We also know it was “Served Ice Cold in Olive Hill by” a long list of distributors, including L.G. Armstrong, G.W. Burchett, J.E. Campbell, Ideal Pharmacy, Caudill Grocery, L.B. Porter, Jas. Waldeck, H.M. Stephens, J.L. Workman, and M.S. Qualls & Co. We also know that it was distributed by Maddox Wholesale Grocery Co., Inc. 

But that’s really all we know. Several internet searches over the last couple of months have turned up no information. We don’t know for sure if this was a soft drink, a near beer, or if it had some sort of alcohol content. If it was a soft drink, what was the flavor? Was it a cola? A ginger ale? A root beer? Or was it a low alcohol beer or non-alcoholic malt beverage of some sort? It seems like it might be, since one of the ads notes that it’s, “The wettest drink out and as near as the law allows.” But that might just be a clever ad pitch in the early prohibition era. 

Whatever it was, we know you couldn’t go too many places in the Olive Hill of a century ago without being able to get yourself a glass of it, and we assume it was probably available in Grayson too. But just what it was remains a mystery to us. Was it made locally? Was it made regionally and just marketed in Olive Hill in the ads we’ve seen because of where the newspaper was based? Was it a statewide thing, akin to Ale-8-One? Or was it a national brand? We have no clue at all. But we’d sure love to know more. 

If you know anything about this relic of Carter County’s past, please don’t hesitate to share, because we’d love to know more about Bone Dry. 

Editor’s Note: This is the 17th in a series of articles drawn from the historical newspaper clippings in the scrapbooks of Jack Fultz. We thank Sally James of Sally’s Flowers in Olive Hill for sharing her uncle’s collected clippings with us and the community. – Jeremy D. Wells, editor, Carter County Times

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