Several media outlets in the St. Louis area reported the Oscar Mayer brand is interested in buying the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle, which went up for sale earlier this month. However, at least one metro-east news website regarded the reports with skepticism.
The speculation was fueled by Oscar Mayer’s famous Wienermobile making an appearance at the Collinsville, Illinois, landmark this week after learning the water tower and adjoining warehouse property were for sale for $500,000.
Then the Riverfront Times, based in St. Louis, received a statement from the company Tuesday:
Oscar Mayer heard that the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle was for sale, so we just had to send out the Wienermobile to check it out. With six large hot dogs on wheels traveling across the country all year, we could use a worthy condiment.
The Consumerist website also got Oscar Mayer to confirm the company’s interest. A company rep said:
“The brand has been in touch with the bottle’s owner, and while they’re still in the early exploratory stage, both parties are very excited about the possibility.”
But the Metro Independent, one of the first outlets to report the landmark being for sale, labeled the Oscar Mayer interest as “premature”:
But Oscar Mayer is not ready to comment on their interest in the water tower and have not contacted the bottle’s owner, Bethel-Eckert Enterprises Inc. Larry Eckert, co-owner of Bethel-Eckert, said his only contact with any company representative was for permission to use an image of the Wienermobile with the catsup bottle in the background.
However, a media report surfaced Tuesday quoting a spokesperson saying both parties were excited about the possibility of a purchase. When contacted by The Metro Independent, a different Oscar Meyer spokesperson said the company would not comment further than the initial press release. The quote was later removed from the story.
It’s possible Oscar Mayer is negotiating with Bethel-Eckert, but with the somewhat-tardy instructions to keep statements on the lowdown until a deal is reached.
The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle sits near the site of a former Brooks Catsup factory. The 100,000-gallon water tower, painted to resemble a Brooks ketchup bottle, was built in 1949.
Brooks moved its operations to Indiana, but the big bottle remained. A preservation group restored it in 1995, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2002.
The World’s Largest Catsup Bottle sits about two miles south of the nearest alignment of Route 66 at Beltline Road in Collinsville. But it remains a popular side trip for Route 66 travelers.
UPDATE 8/4/2014: The Belleville News-Democrat reports Oscar Mayer’s interest in the property apparently has faded. However, other potential buyers have stepped forward.
“We’ve gotten some nibbles on it,” Eckert said. “I’m working with people more serious than (Oscar Mayer), but I can’t say too much right now.”