Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



Electric trolley cars went into service, igniting a revolution in urban transportation.

The Blizzard of 1888 buried much of the U.S. under two feet of snow, shutting down towns and cities for days.  Over 400 died in what at the time was considered the worst American blizzard.

A yellow fever epidemic persisted with 4,500 cases reported, and over 400 deaths.

The National Geographic Magazine published its first quarterly issue.

The secret ballot was first used in U.S. local elections held in Louisville, Kentucky.

President Grover Cleveland lost his bid for re-election to Benjamin Harrison.

The Washington Monument opened to the public.

Electricity became more popular and most major cities had electric street lighting. 

George Eastman trademarked the term “Kodak” and patented his camera which used roll film.  Hand-held Kodak camera owners sent their cameras to Rochester, New York to have the pictures developed and cameras reloaded with film.

The Amateur Athletic Union of the U.S. was formed, seizing control over amateur athletics from unscrupulous promoters.

Printer’s Ink, the oldest, most prestigious and largest magazine targeting advertisers, agencies, and copywriters, was founded.

Asa G. Candler acquired a majority ownership interest in Coca-Cola.

The Artesian Manufacturing Company began bottling Dr Pepper in Waco, Texas.

John J. McLaughlin began bottling carbonated beverages in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. 

During the summer of 1888 Hires placed slightly different versions of the same advertisement in several magazines.  The sketch of a young girl matches the image used for the Gast Lithograph and Engraving Company trade card produced in 1886.  Hires continued to focus on marketing to families, further evidenced by the included offer of “A beautiful picture story book for children, entitled ‘Happy Hours in Fairy Land,’ will be mailed Free to any one sending their address.”  

(Figure 1888-01, Century and The Ladies’ Home Journal, June, 1888)

(Figure 1888-02, Grocery World, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, June 28, 1888)

Note the claim “This preparation has steadily grown in public favor during the past ten years, until to-day it is used in every part of the United States and Canada, and a portion of the Old World.”  This specific reference to “ten years” is the earliest of Hires’ published statements specifically stating he began selling his root beer in 1878.

(Figure 1888-02.5, simpler format used in August, 1888)

Hires began distributing this trade card featuring yet another young girl in 1888:

(Figure 1888-03, trade card, front, 4.5” x 3.25”)

(Figure 1888-03, trade card, back, 4.5” x 3.25”)

Here’s a typical 1888 bottle that contained Hires’ Improved Root Beer liquid:

(Figure 1888-04, Hires Improved Root Beer bottle)

Charles E. Hires Company sales for 1888 were listed as 394,560 bottles.