We've all seen "novelty" fishing lures before--a cob of corn with hooks, the Goodyear Blimp with a line tie, a metal beer cap made into a casting spoon. But have you ever wondered how a novelty fishing lure came into being?
Here's one story for you, the truth behind Texas' "Pearl-O-Lure," an advertising novelty bait manufactured and sold by the Pearl Brewing Company of San Antonio, Texas in 1959.
Pearl Brewing has a long and illustrious history, dating back to 1881. Early on it was run under the San Antonio Brewing Company moniker, and it soon became the largest brewer in the great state of Texas. The Pearl brand name was enormously successful and in the 1950s was a leading national brand.
It turns out that Pearl Brewing Company's foray into the tackle business came about due to a manufacturer's error. As reported by Dan Klepper in the San Antonio Express for August 19, 1959, "The Pearl-0-Lure came about as the result of a mistake. Several thousand small Pearl emblems were made out of the wrong metal. They wouldn't fuse to the cigarette lighters for which they were designed."
So what do you do with several thousand metal badges that won't fuse to a lighter? Enter Jack Braniff, a lab tech, inventor and ardent angler. Braniff "took a few of the emblems home and a few days later came up with the new lure." Braniff had the badges drilled along the sides, and added a simple rubber-skirt dressed treble put on one end to make a simple casting spoon.
He showed it to the Pearl Brewing Co. executives, who were without doubt pleased to have come up with a use for something that was about to be considered a complete loss.
Braniff took over construction (using the name "Jak-Ett Mfg. Co.", and in short order, he purchased some custom-made clear plastic boxes, printed up some inserts with the Pearl beer logo on top, and just like that, they were in the novelty lure market! They called the lure the "Pearl-0-Lure and [it] will be used as an advertising specialty by Pearl Brewing Co."
Judging from the infrequency with which these hit the collector market, not too many people must have saved these give-aways.
So, next time you see a novelty lure and wonder where it came from, think of the Pearl-O-Lure and realize that sometimes, they come about through mistake!
-- Dr. Todd