Today in New Orleans History

April 29

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Big Shot's Irbin Pailet Purchases Orange Crush
April 29, 1928

Irbin Pailet, with one horse and a wagon in 1920 built an ice and soft-drink empire. Pailet is pictured here in the office of Jefferson Bottling Company at Metairie Road and Frisco Avenue in 1922 with his brother-in-law H. J. Wallick, director of sales and brother Maurice, president.


A 1927 advertisement for the business which operated at 716 Frisco Avenue noted that Jefferson Beverages offered "All Flavors" including root beer, cider, sweet mandarin, and grape "Manufactured in a Most Modern Up-To-Date Sanitary Plant -- Louisiana State Board of Health Inspection Scores 100 Per Cent". It was owned by Pailet Industries which also operated the Marada Stock Farms at the same location.

The family business also included Metairie Ridge Ice Company and The Metairie Ridge Ice Company at 308 North Labarre Road and employed sister Fannie and brothers Morris and Samuel Pailet Jr. In this 1926 photo Irbin is right of center (wearing a bow tie).


When the Hi-Way Baseball Park opened on Sunday, July 10, 1927 on Jefferson Highway at Harlem Avenue (now Causeway Boulevard) Jefferson Bottling Works began sponsoring a team (and would continue to do so for many years).  The first game played at the new park pitted the Shrewsbury Athletic Club against Eiriatem ("Metairie" spelled backwards, the team was made up of Metairie High School students) followed by the Jefferson White Sox against Jefferson Bottling Works in a double header.  The park's grandstand seated 1000 spectators.

On April 29, In 1928 Irbin announced the purchase of the Orange Crush bottling company at 3500 Tulane Avenue and renamed it Jefferson Orange Crush Bottling Company, Inc.  Pailet said that the plant would have the capacity to produce 4,000 cans daily which would be transported via 15 delivery trucks. The company also expanded their Metaire bottling location and managed Metairie Ridge Coal Company.

 In 1938 the Pailets introduced Big Shot Root Beer. (D.C. “Infrogmation” May.) and Tom Collins Jr (labled "The Life of the Party) -- a "lithiated lemon" drink in a double portion bottle as well as Double Cola.  The company began running promotions that same year.  The first offered a free silver plated spoon (valued at $1.50 per dozen) for every 12 bottle caps delivered to the plant off Metairie Road.  The second, in conjunction with Big Shot's roll-out offered cash prizes; winners were announced on WDSU radio three times daily.

Round the Clock Ice

The company pioneered 24 hour service via coin operated machines.  This 1949 advertisement shows that Pailet's business had expanded to include Claiborne Ice Company at 2816 South Claiborne Avenue (between Washington and Toledano), Arctic Pure Ice Company at 3701 Bienville Street (between Conti and North Jefferson Davis Parkway), Riverside Ice Company at 2731 Chartres Street (between Port and St. Ferdinand), American Ice Company at 2801 St. Philip Street (corner of North White), and The City Ice House at 3535 Tulane Avenue (between South Genois and South Clark).  After theCity Ice House closed, Dr. Momus Alexander Morgus used it for his laboratory beginning on January 3, 1959. In an Interview with Morgus, the question was asked, "What brought you to locate your laboratory above the Old City Ice House?".  Morgus replied, "When refrigerators and store-bagged ice cubes took over the market years ago, many ice houses closed down, leaving some excellent equipment behind that was ideal for freezing scientific specimens for my experiments - and, of course, the rent was cheap."

In 1960, on the company's 40th anniversary the local paper reported that Pailet Industries was “one of the states' and city's largest tax-payers...using raw materials principally from Louisiana resources“.  

In 1961, Jefferson Bottling introduced Chocolate Soldier to the Greater New Orleans Area.  Two 72-case processors at the company plant cooked the tasty beverage in the bottle and more than 20 trucks delivered it to local stores.  The product was such a success that production manager Buddy Massett, who had been with the company for over 30 years (and at one time had a tavern on Metairie Road) , added a Saturday working shift.  


The bottling company operated on Frisco street in Old Metairie until the 1980s before moving to 4951 River Road. Big Shot is now manufactured by National Beverage Corporation in Harahan. 

Irbin's death at Touro Infirmary on November 4, 1962 at the age of 64 was reported on the front page of the Times-Picayune. At the time he was president of Pailet Industries, Inc and Metairie Bank. He had been president of Metairie Bank, Metaire Men's Association, the Chamber of Commerce of the New Orleans Area, Covington Country Club, B'nai B'rith, the Congregation of Chevra Thilim and was a generous philanthropic supporter of the Jewish Community.  He had owned interests in oil production, livestock (including Marada Stock Farms), nurseries (including Countryside Nursery in Covington),  Irbin Pailet resided at 118 Hector Avenue in Metairie.  750 acres belonging to the Irbin Pailet family was acquired in the 1980s by Beau Chêne, Incorporated for use as the middle and eastern portion of an upscale Northshore housing development.
  The above infromation is from Legendary Locals of Metairie by Catherine Campanella.

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Percy Robert Miller (born April 29, 1970 in New Orleans better known by his stage name Master P or his business name P. Miller, is an American rapper, actor, entrepreneur, investor, producer, and former professional minor league Basketball player. He is the founder of the popular label No Limit Records, which went bankrupt and was relaunched as New No Limit Records through Koch Records, followed by Guttar Music Entertainment, and No Limit Forever Records. He is the founder and CEO of P. Miller Enterprises, an entertainment and financial conglomerate and Better Black Television.

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Abreviations used on this site: NOPL (New Orleans Public Library), LOC (Library of Congress), LDL (Lousiana Digital Library), HNOC (Historic New Orleans Collection), WIKI (Wikipedia).

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