Hunki Dori Bitters – H.B. Matthews – Chicago


Hunki Dori Bitters – H.B. Matthews – Chicago

“Before they left, they evidently reached a high state of hilarity as they imbibed quite freely of Hunki Dori Bitters”

Burglars Drink Hunki Dori Bitters – 1874 new report (see below)
26 October 2014

Apple-Touch-IconAIt seems fitting, as a follow-up to the recent Hunk Dori Bitters post, to develop a post for another Hunki Dori Bitters. This brand was made by H.B. Matthews in Chicago, Illinois. The Carlyn Ring and W.C. Ham listing in Bitters Bottles is as follows:


H.B. Matthews Sons, Manufacturer, 220 Lake Street
9 x 2 3/4 (7 1/4)
Square, Amber, LTC, Applied mouth, Rare
Chicago Directory 1877

Hunki Dori Bitters – Meyer Collection


Hunki Dori Bitters – Meyer Collection

Hunki Dori

Most modern definitions of “Hunki dori” mean “satisfaction”, “OK”, “every is all right”, “cool” etc. In a previous post, I said I thought Hunki Dori was a honky tonk in Saigon during the Vietnam War. The phrase actually dates back at least the early 1870s as noted in this news clipping in a social column below…


“Honki dori” – Ottawa Free Trader – February 18, 1871

Henry B. Matthews

Henry B. Matthews was born in Johnstown, New York in 1809. I believe that he had five sons, Edwin S., Henry B., Thomas, John H. and Daniel S. who would follow and join him in various business capacities throughout his life. This is reflected in their business name, H.B. Matthews Sons. From New York, I see that they were farming in Davenport, Iowa in 1860 which seems odd and later show up selling stomach bitters and as travel agents at 220 Lake Street in Chicago, Illinois in 1873. Edwin and Daniel Matthews were running the operation by then. This lasts until about 1877 though they could have been selling bitters later as they were listed as selling liquor and patent medicines until 1882. Kind of the same thing back then.

Select Listings:

1809: Henry B. Matthews (father) birth in Johnstown, New York.

1830: Edwin B. Matthews (son) birth

1845: Married wife Mary?

1846: Henry B. Matthews (son) birth

1847: Thomas Matthews (son) birth

1850: John H. Matthews (son) birth

1854: Daniel S. Matthews (son) birth

1860: Davenport, Iowa, Henry B. Matthews, farmer, age 51, born in New York – 1860 Unites States Federal Census

1873: H.B. Matthews Sons (Edwin B., travel agent, H.B. jr., travel agent, Daniel S.D. Matthews, bookkeeper), stomach bitters, 431 Lake – Chicago Illinois City Directory

1874: “A state of hilarity”. Burglars drink Hunki Dori Bitters. – Sterling Standard (Illinois), Thursday, October 29, 1874


“A state of hilarity”. Burglars drink Hunki Dori Bitters. – Sterling Standard (Illinois), Thursday, October 29, 1874

1877: H.B. Matthews Sons (Edwin B. and Daniel S.D. Matthews), bitters manufacturers, 220 Lake – Chicago Illinois City Directory

1878: H.B. Matthews Sons (Edwin B. and Daniel S.D. Matthews), liquors, 220 Lake – Chicago Illinois City Directory

1879: H.B. Matthews’ Sons selling Photo Visiting Cards (see below) – Harper’s Young People


1880: Chicago, Henry B. Matthews, retired grocer, age 71, born in New York, wife Mary, Edwin B. (age 50), clerk in store, Daniel S. (age 26), bookkeeper – 1880 United States Federal Census

1882: H.B. Matthews & Sons, patent medicines (Edwin B. Matthews), 954 W. Lake – Chicago Illinois City Directory

1897: Henry B. Matthews death in Chicago, Illinois, 4 November 1897

About Ferdinand Meyer V

Ferdinand Meyer V is a native of Baltimore, Maryland and has a BFA in Fine Art and Graphic Design from the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design. Ferdinand is the founding Principal of FMG Design, a nationally recognized design consultation firm. Ferdinand is a passionate collector of American historical glass specializing in bitters bottles, color runs and related classic figural bottles. He is married to Elizabeth Jane Meyer and lives in Houston, Texas with their daughter and three wonderful grandchildren. The Meyers are also very involved in Quarter Horses, antiques and early United States postage stamps. Ferdinand is the past 6-year President of the Federation of Historical Bottle Collectors and is one of the founding members of the FOHBC Virtual Museum.
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