Little Standard Oil history
By Patrick Moore (USA)
In the late 1800's and very early 1900's, Standard Oil was owned by J.
D. Rockefeller. They had a monopoly on oil refining and distribution
throughout the US.
In 1911, the US Supreme Court decided that the monopoly was not in the
best interest of the public, and ordered Standard to dissolve into 30 or
so separate companies with no ties to the others whatsoever. Of that 30
or so, only 10 were in the refining and marketing business.
Standard Oil of New York (now part of Mobil)
Standard Oil Of New Jersey )\
Standard Oil of Pennsylvania ) Esso Marketers
Standard Oil of Louisiana )/
Standard Oil of Kentucky (later purchased by Standard/California)
Standard Oil Of Texas (merged with Standard/California)
Standard oil of California (now Chevron)
Standard Oil of Ohio (Sohio)
Standard Oil of Nebraska (merged with Standard/Indiana)
Standard Oil of Indiana (now Amoco)
Each of these new companies were assigned territories as small as one
state (Sohio was only allowed to market in Ohio) or as large as 14
states (Standard/Indiana held the entire midwestern US).
Naturally, some of these companies would merge (Standard of Texas and
California would merge in the 1920's). But the most famous of the
mergers came when Standard of New Jersey purchased Standard/Louisiana,
Standard/Pennsylvania, Colonial Beacon Oil Co., a 50% share in Humble
Oil in Texas and Kesbec, Inc. to form Esso Marketers.
Esso Marketers first used the Esso trademark in the 1920's. Early
roadmaps from this period bear the ad "Specify either 'Standard' or
'Esso' gasoline", with visible pumps having both "Esso" and "Standard"
globes. By 1935, Esso began using the Esso trademark exclusively in its
marketing areas except Texas. (Although the single name "Esso" was being
used, the individual companies still clung to their regional identity.)
Esso purchased Carter Oil Company, giving them a presence in the Midwest
and Pacific Northwest, thereby competing against Standard/Indiana and
In 1946, Esso combined its Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New
England (with permission from Socony Mobil)operations into one single
name: "Esso Standard Oil Company". This would serve Esso for the next 14
In 1960, Esso wanted to expand its operations into the southern US. To
do so, they had to change their name again. This time, Esso took the
name of its Texas operations, "Humble Oil And refining Company", and
rebranded all of its Carter stations "Enco", after Humble's slogan at
the time, "America's leading ENergy COmpany". Humble opened up Esso
stations in Georgia and Florida. Standard of Kentucky sued Humble,
claiming that Esso was a derivative of Standard Oil and had no right to
use that name in their territory. To comply, Humble sent each station in
Georgia and Florida stickers to cover the Esso logo. These stickers had
a tiger's face on it. Soon, stations began asking Humble for more
stickers- the public wanted them! This soon led to one of Humble's most
successful ad campaigns ever- "Put A Tiger In Your Tank". Humble
eventually used "Enco" in the South, but Standard/Kentucky took the case
to the Supreme Court, and won.
If Humble wanted to go nationwide, it had to adopt a name that it could
use without fear of litigation. Esso was out of the question, Enco meant
"stalled car" in Japanese, so Humble had to come up with a new name
altogether. It had to be easy to remember and inoffensive in any
language. In 1973, Humble oil became Exxon corporation; all Esso, Enco,
and Humble stations in the US were converted to Exxon. Esso's overseas
operations were unaffected.
© 1998 Patrick Moore and Pascal Pannetier Vers 1.00