A PURE History

From PURE Oil to the PURE Co-op

Vintage cars

The origin of PURE dates back to 1914, with the founding of the Ohio Cities Gas Company. Six years later, the company name changed to PURE Oil, and by 1926, it had moved to Chicago to establish its headquarters. From these offices in the Windy City, the company operated refineries located in Ohio, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas.

In 1950, PURE Oil opened a new research laboratory, and by the 1960’s, annual sales had grown to $700 million, as PURE Oil ranked among the 100 largest industrial corporations in the United States, with more than 1,000 employees in the Chicago area alone. The growth of the PURE brand during the 50’s and 60’s, especially in the Southeast, coincided with the growth in popularity of stockcar racing, as PURE was one of the more visible petroleum brands for the sport during this era.

It was 1965 when the Union Oil Company of California (Unocal) purchased PURE Oil, converting PURE branded sites to the Union 76 brand. But when Unocal announced it was pulling out of the Southeast in 1992, this provided an ideal opportunity for a group of independent petroleum marketers to purchase and resurrection of the PURE brand and Firebird trademark, which Unocal had long since abandoned.

Note: sources for this history of PURE include the Encyclopedia of Chicago and The Journal of Petroleum Marketing.