In a week that has seen two major music groups shed their names to cut any ties with a confederacy past, the Dixie Brewery announced that it will be changing its name
In a statement on Friday Dixie Brewery owner Gayle Benson, who also owns the NFL’s New Orleans Saints and the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, explained that the brewery is working to find a new name in order to make “our home more united, strong and resilient for future generations.”
And some see the word “Dixie” as loaded with racist associations…
Founded in New Orleans in 1907, Dixie Beer’s fortunes have waxed and waned over the years.
It not only survived Prohibition but came back strong, and in the 1950’s Dixie Beer was an industry leader, not only in New Orleans where it commanded almost 30 percent of the city’s local beer market, but throughout Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
That success suffered a near fatal blow in the 1970’s due to a bad batch of beer, which made its way throughout the city, that had been tainted with chemicals fumes from cleaning supplies.
After that unfortunate incident Dixie Beer struggled to rebuild its reputation and regain its once solid economic base in the south. But ownership changes and competition with national heavyweights such as Pabst, Miller and Budweiser over the decade proved challenging…And then came Hurricane Katrina.
When Hurricane Katrina, made landfall in Louisiana in August 2005, the floods put an end to Dixie’s Tulane Avenue brewery, leaving the company homeless after the government expropriated the building as part of the new VA Hospital.
With no functioning brewery in New Orleans, owners Joseph and Kendra Bruno moved Dixie Beer’s production to contract brewing operation in Wisconsin until June 2017 when the beer’s production was moved to Memphis, Tennessee.
In 2017 Saints owner Tom Benson purchased Dixie Brewing along with his wife Gayle and not only restored the beer to its original formula but promised to bring the brewery back to New Orleans.
After Tom Benson’s passing, Gayle Benson announced plans for a 30-million dollar 80,000-square-foot brewery and visitors center in New Orleans East with a brewing capacity 72,000 barrels a year.
And now that new operation, which according to Benson ‘has been extraordinarily successful in attracting thousands of people to visit New Orleans East,” will be seeking a new name…
We recognize that our nation and community are currently engaged in critical conversations about racism and systemic social issues that have caused immeasurable pain and oppression of our black and brown communities, Benson wrote. “As New Orleans, and our country, continue to evolve we find it necessary to reflect on the role our brewery can play in making our home more united, strong and resilient for future generations.”
Ever since George Floyd died while being detained by Minneapolis police in May, protesters have been calling for a reckoning over racial justice in business and society as a whole.
Last week, The Dixie Chicks changed their names to The Chicks and country superstars Lady Antebellum rebranded themselves as Lady A.