Twenty years ago this week, New Orleanians were feeling blue over the loss of K&B purple. On July 21, 1997, news broke that the omnipresent drug store chain's signature color would disappear with the sale of its stores to Rite Aid, then the nation's second-largest pharmacy chain.
K&B, which stood for Katz and Besthoff, was founded by Gustave Katz and Sydney Besthoff, who opened their first drug store at 732 Canal St. in 1905 and a second in 1910. By 1965 the chain had grown to 25 stores. As a famous store jingle said, there seemed to be a K&B "on almost any corner," and they were easy to spot with "a big purple sign that says friendly K&B." Besides medications, the stores featured a large selection of liquor, ice cream and other products sold under the K&B name. By the time Rite Aid bought the chain, K&B had 186 stores across the South. Besthoff's grandson, Sydney Besthoff III, is known locally for contributions to the arts, particularly artwork donated to the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art.