Community partners to join in festivities at 9 a.m. September 5 at Major Brands St. Louis 

ST. LOUIS – Major Brands, Inc., the leading Missouri-owned distributor of premium wine, spirits, beer and non-alcoholic beverages is celebrating its 80th anniversary on September 5, 2014. The celebration will feature a specially created Bourbon Missouri Black Walnut flavored ice cream, “Kewpies ‘n Cream,” which was named after Major Brands’ founder, Joseph “Kewpie” Epsten and created especially for the occasion by Serendipity, St. Louis’ hand-crafted ice creamery.

Forest Park Forever President and Executive Director, Lesley Hoffarth, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri (BBBSEMO) President and CEO, Becky James-Hatter, both enduring community partners of Major Brands, will join Susan B. McCollum, Major Brands CEO, in scooping ice cream for the Major Brands team on Friday, September 5. A portion of Kewpies ‘n Cream prior sales on National Ice Cream Day at Serendipity was donated to BBBSEMO.

Major Brands chose September, National Bourbon Heritage Month, to mark its anniversary. Bourbon is distinctive to the United States and is considered America’s native spirit. Major Brands distributes Jim Beam and the Beam bourbon portfolio in Missouri.

In 1934, following the passage of the 21st Amendment and the repeal of Prohibition, alcoholic beverages became legal again in Missouri. In that same year, Joseph Epsten, also known as Kewpie, founded E-L Wholesale, in St. Joseph. Eighty years later, E-L Wholesale, now Major Brands, has offices in Cape Girardeau, Columbia, Kansas City, St. Louis and Springfield. With more than 500 employees, it serves more than 9,000 restaurants, bars, as well as grocery, chain and independent stores across the state.

“To stay in business–any business–for 80 years is an accomplishment,” McCollum, Major Brands CEO and chairman, said. “To stay in business in our industry, which has undergone massive consolidation, and in our state, where locally-owned wholesalers, such as Major Brands, have undergone threats by giant international liquor suppliers, it is a remarkable achievement.”

McCollum represents the third generation of family ownership of Major Brands. She succeeded her late husband Todd Epsten after he passed away from brain cancer in 2012. Robert Epsten, Todd’s father, opened General Wholesale, a second family wholesale operation in Kansas City in the early 1950s. Todd then led the company’s expansion into St. Louis and throughout the state in the late 1980s, resulting in the consolidation of the companies under the name of Major Brands.

Major Brands is one of but a few single-state, independently owned and operated wine and spirits wholesalers remaining in the country. Today, multi-state, mega wholesalers dominate. Major Brands is the only large wholesale wine and spirits distributor to be woman led and owned.

For more information on Major Brands’ history or its 80th Anniversary celebration, please contact Tammy Wheeler at 314-633-3606.