The prohibition movement led many people to try and replace alcoholic beverages with sodas as a way of protecting the health of the common man who spent much of his free time drinking. Keeping in mind that at this point the detrimental effects of sugary drinks had yet to be discovered, this seemed like a great option. Hundreds of soft drink brands were created. Bludwine was seen as an invigorating drink to restore the energy of people who had become tired after work and wanted to conform to the growing pressure to refrain from consuming alcohol. A healthy energy drink apparently appealed to many people. Selling for five cents a bottle, Bludwine became popular. However, marketing the soda as a health drink got Bludwine into trouble with the FDA after the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act. People had assumed Bludwine was a medicine for blood health and doctors began prescribing it. In 1921, Bludwine became Budwine to circumvent this issue. The company also found itself in trouble for using wine in the name after the Pure Food and Drug Act was passed; however, this was quickly resolved with no repercussions to the company.
After its production peaked around World War I, Bludwine began to decline and in 1930 its creator, Anderson, ended up selling the company to an Athens ice cream shop owner, Joe Costa. At this point the hundred former bottlers had been reduced to only 25 spread across the Southeast. The Great Depression was not kind to the struggling Budwine brand. Costa decided to create a cheap soda that was called the Three Centa as it only cost three cents, compared to the usual five cent Budwine. This new soda, however, did not save the company because at this point Coke had a very strong grip on the Atlanta area, which made it difficult for Budwine to sell their drink to any large population centers. After World War II the once world renown company only had two remaining bottlers, one in Athens and one in Augusta. This decline continued throughout the rest of the mid-20th century. By 1969, the Pepsi plant on Prince Avenue that had been bottling Budwine changed owners. The new owners were forced to sign an exclusivity contract with Pepsi and thus stopped bottling Budwine. Still the company held on for dear life with Costa producing the syrup for the Athens Dairy Queen (his last customer) in his garage.
Joe Costa’s son Bill took the reins of his father’s failing business after graduating from the University of Georgia in 1974. He began ramping up production of the syrup and began searching for new customers. The drink made a resurgence and got its first exclusive bottler in decades. The drink began selling well across northeast Georgia, but it was nearly impossible for any sizeable market to be obtained due to Coke’s stranglehold on Atlanta’s soft drink market. Costa spent much of the rest of his time searching for places that would be willing to sell Budwine. This pursuit of markets continued until Bill sold the rights to Budwine to recoup the losses of his failed business. The Budwine name and line of soda came to an end in the mid-1990s when the man who purchased the rights sold them to Anheuser Busch. The beer company sought to take every other product named “Bud” off of the market so Budwine was finally relegated to the history books.