Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



The Chinese Exclusion Treaty granted power to “regulate, limit or suspend” the entry of Chinese laborers.  550,000 English and 440,000 Irish immigrants arrived to build new lives.  The Census reported the U.S. population at 50,155,783. 

Illiteracy in America was estimated at 17% of the population.

There were about 50,000 telephone subscribers in the U.S.

George Eastman of Rochester, New York patented a successful roll film for cameras.

The Singer Company sold 539,000 sewing machines for home use. 

Ice packed in sawdust was exported to tropical and southern ports below decks.  Part would melt, but at the destinations the product was very valuable, selling for as much as $56 per ton.

James A. Garfield was elected President of the U.S.

The Women’s National Christian Temperance Union and the Prohibition Party forced a bill through the Kansas legislature outlawing the sale and consumption of alcohol.

James Vernor began making Vernor’s Ginger Ale in Detroit, Michigan.

The Census reported 512 U.S. plants for making bottled soda water were in operation.

This large advertisement was printed on onion-skin type paper.  The “healthy” and “strengthening” marketing theme is further emphasized by the various images.  The drunkard on his hands and knees at the bottom right not only has a monkey on his back, he is holding a bottle of rum with a snake coming out of the bottle’s mouth.  The text doesn’t specifically mention temperance, but that is definitely the message the images convey.

(Figure 1880-01, Hires' Improved Root Beer - Healthy & Strengthening)

The illustrated Hires’ Improved Root Beer Package in this newspaper advertisement is the same image used for the series of Hires trade cards published in 1879.

(Figure 1880-02, The Valley Republican, Kinsley, Kansas, July 3, 1880)

Charles E. Hires Company sales for 1880 were listed as 5,804 bottles.