Bill Stein, ’48
Minnesotans know their homegrown beer, and what's more memorable than the beloved Hamm's Beer Bear?
Bill Stein, a 1948 graduate, created more artwork for this portly, log-rolling icon than any other artist. He designed most of the print ads and TV commercials of the bear's North Woods adventures, accompanied by the drum-beating jingle, "From the Land of Sky-Blue Waters."
The bear concept was likely suggested by characters in the Disney films Fantasia and Pinocchio. The original Hamm's bear was designed for Campbell-Mithun's advertising campaign by Minnesota Ojibwe artist Patrick Desjarlait, and was further refined by agency artist Ray Tollefson. But it was Bill Stein who became the bear's ongoing, steadfast designer.
The original music was supposedly based on an Omaha tribal love song:
From the Land of Sky-blue Waters,
From the land of pines, lofty balsams,
Comes the beer refreshing,
Hamm's, the beer refreshing.
(c)1952 Hamm's Beer
The song was on radio before television arrived; Harpo Marx plays the tune on his harp in the film, Go West! and Blanche du Bois sings a fragment in scene two of Tennessee Williams' drama, A Streetcar Named Desire.
Though once named near the top of a list of "150 Influential Minnesotans," the Hamm's bear was retired from advertising due to unwanted influence on children. But Hamm's beer retains its nostalgic appeal, thanks in part to the lively caricatures and art direction of Bill Stein, beer-bear expert.