Hires Root Beer

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Hires Root Beer Logo
TypeRoot Beer
ManufacturerKeurig Dr Pepper
Country of origin United States
Introduced1876; 147 years ago (1876)
Related productsA&W Root Beer, Dad's Root Beer, Mug Root Beer, Barq's
Websitewww.drpeppersnapplegroup.com/brands/hires Edit this on Wikidata

Hires Root Beer is an American brand of root beer that is manufactured by Keurig Dr Pepper. Introduced in 1876, it was one of the longest continuously made soft drinks in the United States.[1]


American Trade Card for Hires Root Beer (1894)

Hires Root Beer was created by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania pharmacist Charles Elmer Hires. The official story is that Hires first tasted root beer, a traditional American beverage dating back to the colonial era, while on his honeymoon in 1875.[2] However, historical accounts vary and the actual time and place of the discovery may never be known.[3] By 1876, Hires had developed his own recipe and was marketing 25-cent packets of powder which each yielded five US gallons (19 L) of root beer. At Philadelphia's Centennial Exposition in 1876, he cultivated new customers by giving away free glasses of it. Hires marketed it as a solid concentrate of 16 wild roots and berries. It claimed to purify the blood and make rosy cheeks.[4] In 1884, he began producing a liquid extract and a syrup for use in soda fountains, and was soon shipping root beer in kegs and producing a special fountain dispenser called the "Hires Automatic Munimaker." In 1890, the Charles E. Hires Company incorporated and began supplying Hires root beer in small bottles[5][6] claiming over a million bottles sold by 1891.[7]

Hires's choice of name for his product caused a problem: the word "beer" drew the wrath of the temperance movement.[citation needed] He had his root beer tested by a laboratory, and trumpeted their conclusion that a glass of his root beer contained less alcohol than a loaf of bread.[citation needed] Hires Root Beer was promoted as "The Temperance Drink" and "the Greatest Health-Giving Beverage in the World". Hires advertised aggressively, believing "doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you are doing, but nobody else does."[2]

Hires Root Beer mug, 1930s or earlier

One of the major ingredients of root beer was sassafras oil, a plant root extract used in beverages for its flavor and presumed medicinal properties. The medicinal properties of root beer are emphasized in the advertising slogan, "Join Health and Cheer; Drink Hires Rootbeer". The U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned sassafras oil in 1960 because it contains the carcinogen and liver-damaging chemical safrol. However, a process was later discovered by which the harmful chemical could be removed from sassafras oil while preserving the flavor.[8]

Prior to the move to "natural and artificial flavors", Hires ingredients included carbonated water, sugar, dextrose, caramel, plant extracts of birch, sassafras, licorice, vanilla, spikenard, sarsaparilla, hops, wintergreen, pipsissewa, ginger and flavor.

Hires Root Beer kits, available in the United States and Canada from the early 1900s through the 1980s allowed consumers to mix an extract with water, sugar and yeast to brew their own root beer. However, most consumption was of bottled root beer.

A mid-1960s' advertising campaign featured jingles by jazz singer Blossom Dearie, wherein she sang in a Betty-Boop voice: "Hires Root Beer! Hires Rootin' Tootin' Root Beer! Hires Rootin'-Tootin' Rabble-Rousin', lion-roarin', Roman-candle-lightin' Root Beer!"


Consolidated Foods bought the company from the Hires family in 1960, and sold it two years later to Crush International. Procter & Gamble bought Crush in 1980, and sold it to Cadbury Schweppes in 1989. Cadbury divested its soft drinks arm in 2008, and the beverage company renamed itself Dr Pepper Snapple Group.

In Canada, the Hires brand is no longer sold by Keurig Dr Pepper; retailers and vending machines have replaced it with Pepsi-owned Mug Root Beer since the 1990s and DPSG markets Stewarts Root Beer in Canada. The Hires brand is now offered by Canada Dry Motts as an alcoholic drink, Hires Root Beer and Vodka.[9]

Hires' availability in the U.S. is limited as other Dr. Pepper owned brands like A&W Root Beer are competing for the same bottlers on behalf of the same company.[10] As of 2022, the Keurig Dr. Pepper web page no longer lists Hires among its list of brands on the home page except as part of an all products listing search on its website. [11]

See also[edit]

  • Chester teapot, a large teapot made from a former giant Hires Root Beer barrel sign


  1. ^ Smith, Andrew F. (2007-05-01). The Oxford Companion to American Food and Drink. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-988576-3.
  2. ^ a b "Our Brands". Keurig Dr Pepper. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  3. ^ Bennett, Eileen (June 28, 1998). "Local Historians Argue Over the Root of Hires". The Press of Atlantic City. Retrieved August 22, 2014 – via Gourmet Root Beer.
  4. ^ Pendergrast, Mark (2000). For God, Country and Coca-Cola. Basic Books. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-46505-468-8. Retrieved August 22, 2014 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Funderburg, Anne Cooper (2001). Sundae Best: A History of Soda Fountains. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green University Popular Press. pp. 92–94. ISBN 978-0-87972-854-0. Retrieved August 22, 2014 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Hoolihan, Christopher (2001). Social Medicine in the United States, 1717–1917. Boydell & Brewer. p. 454. ISBN 978-1-58046-098-9. Retrieved August 22, 2014 – via Google Books.
  7. ^ "Hires Root Beer". Lowcountry Digital Library. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  8. ^ Nickell, Joe (January–February 2011). "'Pop' Culture: Patent Medicines Become Soft Drinks". Skeptical Inquirer. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. 35 (1): 14–17. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  9. ^ "Hires Root Beer and Vodka". Canada Dry Motts. November 27, 2018. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  10. ^ "Killing A Product: The Demise of Hires Root Beer". Stuff Nobody Cares About. August 22, 2011. Retrieved August 22, 2014.
  11. ^ "Family of Brands". Keurig Dr Pepper. Archived from the original on 2022-09-22. Retrieved 2022-10-22.

Further reading[edit]

  • Hires, C.E. (1913). "Seeing Opportunities". American Druggist and Pharmaceutical Record. New York: American Druggist Publishing. ISSN 0099-7366.
  • Quarantiello, Laura E. (1997). The Root Beer Book: A Celebration of America's Best-Loved Soft Drink. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: Limelight Books. ISBN 978-0-936653-78-5.

External links[edit]