The Buffalo Bisons Bottlecap Logo
The story behind one of the most recognizable logos in hockey history
In February 1955, the Pastor Brothers: Ruby, Al and Sam, purchased the Pepsi-Cola bottling plant in Buffalo. The Pastors were committed to Buffalo, New York and chose professional hockey as the strategy to introduce themselves and their family-owned Pepsi business to the community. On Tuesday, July 17, 1956, the Chicago Blackhawks sold the Professional Buffalo Hockey Bisons Club Inc., to Reuben Pastor for a reported price of $125,000.
The Pastors also wanted to make an even larger impact in the Buffalo community by organizing a municipal amateur youth hockey league. In an effort to tie together the Pastor's Pepsi business with hockey, they devised a brilliant branding solution. They introduced the now famous Buffalo hockey bottle cap logo as the team's new emblem. The logo featured Pepsi's classic red and blue wave inside a stylized bottle cap and the word “Buffalo” positioned where the words "Pepsi-Cola" would be.
American Hockey League managers, who originally balked at the design, did not overlook the marketing ploy. Years earlier, the Hershey Bears wanted to be known as the Hershey "Bars" because of that area's association with Hershey's Chocolate. The league voted down Hershey's proposal because they felt it trivialized the integrity of the game. The Pastor's argument was that the name of the team was indeed Buffalo Bisons and that they were not trivializing the game of hockey. The American Hockey League officials eventually agreed and the design became a lasting identity to this day.
For their 40th anniversary, the Buffalo Sabres unveiled new home, road and alternate jerseys for the 2010-11 season. The new sweaters show a shift by the team back to its original identity which includes the royal blue and gold colors from the original Sabres' uniform that debuted in 1970. The alternate sweater design also features a "Buffalo" script wordmark which was inspired by the old Buffalo Bisons "bottlecap" logo. According to the Sabres' website, "the design for both jerseys was a collaborative effort between the Sabres and Reebok International." The official team website also has a complete photo gallery for your enjoyment.
To read more about the Buffalo Bisons, puchase your copy of “Before the Blade: The History of Buffalo’s First Professional Hockey Team” by Tim Warchocki.