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A brief history of PBR's real blue ribbon

For RedEye

Pabst Blue Ribbon is most associated with its birthplace in Milwaukee, but it’s the city of Chicago where the beer made its name—literally.

Not to be confused with the television channel that airs "Sesame Street," PBR was originally known as PBS—Pabst's Best Select. But at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, better known as the Chicago World's Fair, the brew was awarded the top beer award.

Soon after the grand fair, Pabst Best Select was renamed Pabst Blue Ribbon. Interestingly enough, Capt. Pabst ordered that actual blue silk ribbon be tied around each can, and the beer caught on so well that the brewer was using 1 million feet of ribbon per year, according to, stopping only when World War I prompted a silk shortage.

But likely because of the enormous cost, Pabst switched to a printed graphic of the blue ribbon by the '50s.

Ryan Smith is a RedEye special contributor.




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