Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer

1889 

IT HAPPENED IN…1889

The Oklahoma land rush contributed to a development boom in Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and other prairie areas. 

Heavy rains burst the earthworks South Fork Dam above Johnstown, Pennsylvania, sending a 30 foot high wall of water over the town, killing over two thousand people.

North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington were admitted as states.

The I. M. Singer Company marketed its first electric sewing machines.

Coin-operated telephones became common in railroad depots, hotels, and restaurants.  Medium-sized towns typically had one or two dozen telephones in public locations.

The Otis Company installed the first electric elevator.

The Eiffel Tower opened in Paris, France.  It was the world’s tallest structure at the time.

The Ladies’ Home Journal started publishing articles on civic affairs, and crusading against social ills, demonstrating a widening of women’s interests.

Mark Twain published A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur’s Court.

The Coca-Cola Company was incorporated as the Pemberton Medicine Company.  The Coca-Cola logo was printed for the first time in the Atlanta Journal.

The Wall Street Journal began publication in New York City.

Trade cards reached the height of their popularity with advertisers and the public. 

Electric lighting was installed in the White House.  Staff members had to turn them on because President Harrison was afraid to touch the switches.

1,377 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.  Per capita consumption was 9.9 bottles.

In early 1889 Hires ceased the distribution of Happy Hours in Fairy Land giveaway booklets and began offering at least four different editions of a 20 page Happy Hours in Picture Land booklet.  This first example featured "The Three Little Pigs" nursery rhyme:

(Figure 1889-01, Happy Hours In Picture Land, back and front covers)

(Figure 1889-01, Happy Hours In Picture Land, inside front cover and first page)

The front cover artwork for a second example was revised and the contents changed to a "Baby's Book" featuring the alphabet with accompanying images.  The back cover advertisement promoted the Canisteo Weekly Times, a Steuben County, New York newspaper published from 1889-1892.  Note the tag line added to the bottom of the Mellin's Food advertisement inside the back cover referencing the 1884 World's Exposition held in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

(Figure 1889-01.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, back and front covers)

(Figure 1889-01.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, inside front cover and page 1)

(Figure 1889-01.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 2 and 3)

(Figure 1889-01.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 4 and 5)

(Figure 1889-01.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 6 and 7)

(Figure 1889-01.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 8 and 9)

(Figure 1889-01.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 10 and 11)

(Figure 1889-01.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 12 and 13)

(Figure 1889-01.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 14 and 15)

(Figure 1889-01.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 16 and inside back cover)

This third example was produced for distribution by B. F. Brown & Company, a Boston, Massachusetts manufacturer of boots and shoes for women and children.  The inside front cover included a small Hires advertisement and the booklet contained a "Jack In The Box" nursery rhyme. 

(Figure 1889-02, Happy Hours In Picture Land, back and front covers)

(Figure 1889-02, Happy Hours In Picture Land, inside front cover and page 1)

A fourth example contained two nursery rhymes, "Mary And Her Lamb," and "A Moony Old Cat."  The inside front cover included a full page Hires advertisement.

(Figure 1889-02.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, back and front covers)

(Figure 1889-02.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, inside front cover and page 1)

(Figure 1889-02.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 2 and 3)

(Figure 1889-02.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 4 and 5)

(Figure 1889-02.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 6 and 7)

(Figure 1889-02.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 8 and 9)

(Figure 1889-02.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 10 and 11)

(Figure 1889-02.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 12 and 13)

(Figure 1889-02.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 14 and 15)

(Figure 1889-02.5, Happy Hours In Picture Land, pages 16 and inside back cover)

Increasingly seeking ways to promote Hires’ Improved Root Beer, Charles Hires decided the upcoming March 4, 1889 inauguration of Benjamin Harrison as U.S. President provided an excellent advertising opportunity.  Consequently he placed newspaper notices announcing a contest with a total of $200.00 in cash prizes for those who could correctly predict the individuals Harrison would select as his cabinet officers.  Everyone who entered the contest, whether their answers were correct or not, was promised a “Patent Erasable Memorandum Tablet” and a “Picture Card” by return mail.  All submissions were required to include “three 2-cent stamps,” which were no doubt used by Hires to mail the tablets and trade cards to contest entrants.

(Figure 1889-03, newspaper contest notice)

On February 25, 1889, Hires’ Improved Root Beer Extract was awarded a Gold Seal Prize at the Retail Grocers’, Manufacturers’ and Pure Food Exposition held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The diploma presented noted Hires Extract’s “Purity, Superiority and Delicacy of Flavor.”  This was the first of many awards bestowed on Hires’ Root Beer over the years.  To commemorate this significant award, Hires produced two page, double-sided flyers depicting the diploma, full page advertisements (in both English and German), and a page of customer and retailer testimonials. 

(Figure 1889-04, double-sided flyer, page 1, 9.25” x 6.0”)

(Figure 1889-04, double-sided flyer, page 2, 9.25” x 6.0”)

(Figure 1889-04, double-sided flyer, page 3, 9.25” x 6.0”)

(Figure 1889-04, double-sided flyer, page 4, 9.25” x 6.0”)

The double-sided flyer’s artwork was reused for a wood-framed print of the two men trying and liking Hires’ Improved Root Beer.  This item was produced by Burk & McFetridge, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania firm specializing in lithographed trade cards, advertisements, book illustrations, pamphlets, and calendars.   

(Figure 1889-05, wood-framed print, 13.5” x 16.5”)

Hires also distributed a different version of the double-sided flyer, with a larger-sized Diploma, plus black-and-white cover art featuring an elderly couple reading the instructions for making Hires’ Improved Root Beer.

(Figure 1889-06, double-sided flyer, page 1)

A full color print of the cover art used for the second double-sided flyer was also produced and distributed.

(Figure 1889-07, color print, 18.0” x 19.0”)

An 1889 Hires wall calendar marked another change in marketing approach with artwork featuring an attractive young woman. 

(Figure 1889-08, paper 1889 wall calendar, Hires Family Archives)

A mid-year 1889 Hires’ giveaway item was a pocket-sized, bound memo pad that incorporated a July 1889 – June 1890 calendar.  Miss Anna S. Beard used this example June 26, 1889 to document the expenses incurred for her graduation dress and pictures. 

(Figure 1889-09, memo pad, front cover, 4.25” x 2.375”)

(Figure 1889-09, memo pad page and inside back cover)

The carton for this circa 1889 package of Hires’ Improved Root Beer states “Full Directions Inside” in both English and German:

(Figure 1889-10, Hires’ Improved Root Beer carton)

Dovetailed wooden cases with lids measuring 5.5” x 7.0” were used for shipping one dozen packages of Hires�� Improved Root Beer (Liquid). 

(Figure 1889-11, liquid wooden shipping case)

Dovetailed wooden cases measuring 13.75” long x 6.125" wide x 5.0” tall were used for shipping one dozen packages of Hires’ Improved Root Beer (Dry). 

(Figure 1889-11.5, dry wooden shipping case, front)

(Figure 1889-11.5, dry wooden shipping case, lid)

(Figure 1889-11.5, dry wooden shipping case, back)

(Figure 1889-11.5, dry wooden shipping case, end)

Hires patented this wooden whistle August 20, 1889.  Not missing a marketing opportunity, all four long sides of the whistle contain advertising copy.  The Chicago World’s Fair full page article in the June 14, 1893 Public Ledger newspaper specified “This year the firm is giving away about 200,000 small wooden whistles, with the inscription ‘We blow for Hires’ Rootbeer.’” 

(Figure 1889-12, wooden whistle, 3.5” x 1.25” x .5”)

During 1889 Hires purchased a large supply of specially designed trade cards from the J. Ottmann Lithographing Company in New York City.  Ottmann was located in the historic Puck building in New York City.  Ottmann and the Donaldson Brothers were the largest trade card producers in the United States during the 1880s and 1890s.  This card pictures a mother and daughter deciding “What shall we drink?”  The advertising message on the back of the card was pre-printed and the retailer’s name and location subsequently added at the request of the merchant. 

(Figure 1889-13, “What shall we drink?” trade card, front, 5.75” x 3.75”)

(Figure 1889-13, “What shall we drink? trade card, back, personalized)

In 1889 Hires expanded his product line to include “Hires’ Cough Cure.”  The carton labeling indicates this medicine was “For all Diseases of the Lungs, Throat and Chest, Coughs, Colds, Hoarseness, Pneumonia, Bronchitis, Asthma, Catarrh, Sore Throat, and for the relief of Consumptives.”  He also emphasized it was “MADE FROM BALSAM, ROOTS AND BARKS.  PERFECTLY PURE.  No Opium, or other poisonous drugs in any form.”

(Figure 1889-14, Hires’ Cough Cure carton)

Magazine advertisements for Hires’ Cough Cure were even more descriptive, billing it as “THE KING OF COUGH MEDICINES.”  Note also the manufacturer is listed as “The Charles E. Hires Company,” rather than simply “Charles E. Hires.”   

(Figure 1889-15, Hires’ Cough Cure magazine advertisement)

Hires also promoted Hires’ Cough Cure by creating and distributing giveaway items, such as this bookmarker.  This embossed example is printed on both sides:

(Figure 1889-16, Hires’ Cough Cure bookmarker, front and back, 5.0” x 2.5”)

This log cabin cardboard cutout was copyrighted in 1889 by J. B. Morris & Co., printers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  The back of the cabin and one side of the roof advertise Hires’ Cough Cure, while the other side of the roof advertises Hires’ Root Beer. 

(Figure 1889-17, cardboard, log cabin cutout, 9.0” x 6.0”)

This cardboard Christmas 1889 cutout includes Santa preparing to go down the chimney with a bag of toys.  Hires’ Root Beer, Cough Cure, and Cough Candy advertisements were included.

(Figure 1889-18, cardboard Christmas cutout, 7.0” x 10.0”)

Charles E. Hires Company sales for 1889 were listed as 578,048 bottles.