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What can you tell me about Pa-Poose Root Beer? 

Blake Pontchartrain: The New Orleans N.O. It All

click to enlarge Zatarain's, which got its start with root beer concentrate, is owned by a large corporation, but its headquarters and a new production facility are in Gretna.

Zatarain's, which got its start with root beer concentrate, is owned by a large corporation, but its headquarters and a new production facility are in Gretna.

Hey Blake,

My brother and I played on a Little League team at Metairie's Cleary Playground. The park had a celebration to announce that all of the league's teams would be sponsored by Pa-Poose Root Beer. We got uniforms and caps with the Pa-Poose name on it, but we never heard anything about the company after that year. What can you tell me about it?

Ken Ducote

Dear Ken,

  Pa-Poose Root Beer is connected with another local product line: Zatarain's. Long before Emile A. Zatarain Sr. marketed his famous crab boil, fish fry mix, Creole mustard and spices, he was known for his root beer extract, which originally carried the unique hyphenated name Pa-Poose.

  Zatarain, a Spanish-Basque immigrant to New Orleans, founded his company in 1889 at 926 Valmont St. His first product was the root beer concentrate. In 1899, The Times-Picayune ran a story that said, "The public has now recognized the merit of this product, the component parts of which are Indian medical roots, barks, herbs and other native ingredients of great hygienic virtue."

  The company had a long history with local prep sports, sponsoring an American Legion baseball team as far back as the 1920s. The Zatarain Papoose, as the team was called, won the 1932 American Legion World Series. Andy Pilney, a former major league baseball star and Tulane University football coach, oversaw the Little League baseball program, which started in 1962. The next year, Pa-Poose was said to be "the single biggest sponsor of a kids' baseball program in this area, and possibly the nation," with some 100 teams and 1,500 athletes involved.

  In 1963, the Zatarain family sold the company to locally based Pa-Poose Products Company, which moved the operation to Gretna and marketed products under both Pa-Poose and Zatarain's. The Pa-Poose brand faded as the company changed hands repeatedly. Zatarain's is now owned by the spice giant McCormick & Company, which purchased the brand for $180 million but kept Zatarain's headquarters and manufacturing plant in Gretna. This week the company cut the ribbon on a new manufacturing and warehouse facility on the West Bank.

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