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Esso

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Esso
Fuel Brand

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Wikipedia: Esso

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A brand of gasoline created in 1912 from the breakup of Standard Oil. Its name is pronounced "SO," a common nickname for Standard Oil. It is currently a brand of ExxonMobil.

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Esso page on 17 October 2016, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Esso is a trade name for ExxonMobil and its related companies. The name is a phonetic version of the initials of the pre-1911 Standard Oil (SO = Esso), and as such became the focus of much litigation and regulatory restriction in the United States. In 1972 it was largely replaced in the U.S. by the Exxon brand after it bought Humble Oil, while Esso remained widely used elsewhere. In most of the world, the Esso brand and the Mobil brand are the primary brand names of ExxonMobil, with the Exxon brand name still in use only in the United States alongside Mobil.

In 1911, Standard Oil was broken up into 34 companies, some of which were named "Standard Oil" and had the rights to that brand in certain states (the other companies had no territorial rights). Standard Oil of New Jersey ("Jersey Standard") had the rights in that state, plus in Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the District of Columbia. By 1941, it had also acquired the rights in Pennsylvania, Delaware, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana. In those states, it marketed its products under the brand "Esso", the phonetic pronunciation of the letters "S" and "O".

It also used the Esso brand in New York and the six New England states, where the Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony - Vacuum, later Socony - Mobil) had the rights, but did not object to the New Jersey company's use of the trademark (the two companies did not merge until November 1999). However, in the other states, the other Standard Oil companies objected and, via a 1937 U.S. federal court injunction, forced Jersey Standard to use other brand names. In most states the company used the trademark Enco ("Energy Company"), and in a few "Humble".

The other Standard companies likewise were "Standard" or some variant on that in their home states, and another brand name in other states. Esso ranked 31st among United States corporations in the value of World War II production contracts.

During the years of racial segregation in the United States, certain Esso franchises gave out The Negro Motorist Green Book: An International Travel Guide. In 1973, Standard Oil of New Jersey renamed itself as the Exxon Corporation, and adopted that trademark throughout the country. It maintained the rights to "Standard" and "Esso" in the states where it held those rights, by a token effort, by selling "Esso Diesel" in those states at stations that sell diesel fuel, thus preventing the trademark from being declared abandoned.

It retained the "Esso" brand in Puerto Rico and the United States Virgin Islands until 2008, when it sold its stations there to Total S.A.

The Enco brand name was used on locations in the Midwest until 1977 when they were sold to Cheker Oil Co. (now part of Marathon Petroleum subsidiary Speedway LLC); Exxon continues to have a presence in southern Ohio today (as it does throughout much of Appalachia in general), though Mobil is the company's primary brand in the Midwest.

In 2016, ExxonMobil successfully asked a U.S. federal court to lift the 1930s trademark injunction that banned it from using the Esso brand in certain states. By this time, as a result of numerous mergers and rebranding, the remaining Standard Oil companies that previously objected to the Esso name had been acquired by BP. ExxonMobil cited trademark surveys in which there was no longer possible confusion with the Esso name as it was more than seven decades before. BP also had no objection to lift the ban. ExxonMobil did not specify whether they would now open new stations in the U.S. under the Esso name; they were primarily concerned about the additional expenses of having separate marketing, letterheads, packaging, and other materials that omit "Esso".


Multimedia

1938
"Extra"
1938 screen ad
This film is available courtesy of the Prelinger Archives (public domain).
Download Esso Extra 1938 ad from The Internet Archive - 26.8MB - 1:00
1960's
Home Movie: 97279: Esso Stations at Night
This film is available courtesy of the Prelinger Archives (public domain).
Download Esso Stations at Night from The Internet Archive - 76.7MB - 15:24


DateMedia or Collection Name & DetailsFiles
Mid-1940'sHappy Motoring Ahead!
John Bransby Productions for Esso

Topic Page
- 195MB - 8:42
195020 Years an Esso Dealer
Esso

Topic Page
- 323MB - 14:16


Photographs

Gilbarco Esso Twin Gas Pump Gilbarco Twin Gas Pump
for $4,000
2013 Mecum Chicago Auction
Photo ©2013 Bill Crittenden
View photo of Gilbarco Esso Twin Gas Pump - 3.5MB




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