Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



The Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta drew 800,000 visitors.  The Liberty Bell was displayed, Buffalo Bill Cody put on exhibitions, John Philip Sousa conducted concerts, and Booker T. Washington gave a historic speech on race relations.

Cuba revolted against Spain, partially a result of the severe depression in the Cuban sugar industry caused by the Panic of 1893.

The first professional football game was played in Latrobe, Pennsylvania August 31, 1895.

Charles E. Duryea received the first U.S. patent for a gasoline-driven automobile.

Kodak’s pocket camera turned amateur photography into a popular U.S. hobby.

King C. Gillette, a Crown Cork and Seal Company salesman, developed the safety razor.

The slender, beautiful “Gibson Girl” changed peoples’ perceptions of American women. 

Pabst Brewing Company predicted beer would become the national beverage of the U.S.

Michael J. Owens received several patents for a “Machine For Blowing Glass.”  Owens’ automatic glass blowing machines revolutionized the glass manufacturing industry.

Hires kicked off 1895 by again distributing 4.25” x 2.375” leather covered memo pads.  The incorporated advertising listed 1894 production figures, and promoted 15.0” x 20.0” poster versions of “The Parting of Ruth and Naomi” or “And the Fairies went to Bed,” both “works of art, executed in 13 colors, for framing.”  The posters were offered to anyone sending in signature labels from five packages of Hires Rootbeer and three 2¢ stamps.

Early in the year a special offer was also mailed to Hires’ retail dealers.  Here’s a portion of the pre-printed mailing envelope they used:

(Figure 1895-01, mailing envelope)

Donaldson Brothers of New York City produced this 5.875" x 5.0" trade card for Hires.  Although marked as copyrighted in 1894, it wasn’t distributed until early 1895.   

(Figure 1895-02, “And then the fairies went to bed" trade card, front)

(Figure 1895-02, “And then the fairies went to bed" trade card, back)

One version of the “All Gone” trade card was printed by the Forbes Lithograph Manufacturing Company in Boston, Massachusetts.  The line “Could I have another glass of that” does not appear above “Hires Rootbeer” at the bottom of the front side, and the company address is listed as “119 Arch St.” rather than 117-119 Arch St.

(Figure 1895-03, “All Gone” trade card, front, 3.0” x 5.0”)

(Figure 1895-03, “All Gone” trade card, back, 3.0” x 5.0”)

Another version of the “All Gone” trade card was printed by Donaldson Brothers Lithographing in New York City.  “Could I have another glass of that” was added above “Hires Rootbeer?” at the bottom of the front side, and the company address is listed as “117-119 Arch St.”

(Figure 1895-04, “All Gone” trade card, front, 3.0” x 5.0”)

(Figure 1895-04, “All Gone” trade card, back, 3.0” x 5.0”)

Early in 1895 Hires produced and distributed a 20 page booklet entitled The Legend of the Golden Chair.  In addition to a story in verse for children, this 3.0" x 5.0" booklet contains considerable information about and advertisements for Hires’ Improved Root Beer.

 (Figure 1895-05, The Legend of the Golden Chair booklet, vertical format)

The Legend of the Golden Chair booklet was also produced in a horizontal format, with a color cover:

(Figure 1895-06, The Legend of the Golden Chair, horizontal format)

Donaldson Brothers Lithographing of New York City also produced a die-cut, round, trade card depicting the Hires Boy offering a toast of “Health, Wealth and Happiness” to nine children gathered around a dining table.  A black waiter is standing by with a tray holding a corked bottle of Hires Root Beer bearing a paper label.

(Figure 1895-07, “Health, Wealth and Happiness” trade card, 6.5” diameter)

(Figure 1895-08, Grocers’ Criterion, April 22, 1895, front page, 11.0” x 14.0”)

These advertisements ran in weekly issues of The Youth’s Companion magazine:

(Figure 1895-09, The Youth's Companion magazine, May 1895) 

(Figure 1895-10, The Youth's Companion magazine, May 16, 1895)

(Figure 1895-11, The Youth's Companion magazine, May 30, 1895)

(Figure 1895-12, The Youth's Companion magazine, May and June, 1895) 

Hires’ 1895 newspaper advertisements continued to focus on children:

(Figure 1895-13, newspaper advertisement)

Advertisements were tailored for specific audiences, evidence this placement in a monthly journal containing book and magazine reviews, and commentary on world events.

(Figure 1895-14, Review of Reviews, June 1895)

The “Did you get yours?” theme was continued with a different illustration and the addition of expanded copy to create this magazine advertisement.

(Figure 1895-15, Ladies’ Home Journal, June 1895, 16.0” x 22.0”)

The young boy pictured wearing a straw hat on the “All Gone” trade card made return appearances in magazine advertisements and also on an unusual cardboard fan pull.

(Figure 1895-16, The Youth’s Companion, June 1895)

(Figure 1895-17, Munsey's Magazine, 6.75” x 9.5")

(Figure 1895-18, cardboard fan pull, 9.25” x 9.5”)

(Figure 1895-19, The Youth’s Companion, June 27, 1895)

The hand and bottle image was reused from the May and June 1895 “Get a glass quick” advertisements placed in The Youth’s Companion magazine, but the format changed.

(Figure 1895-20, The Ladies’ World monthly magazine, July 1895)

(Figure 1895-21, Munsey’s Magazine, July 1895)

This Carbonated Hires advertisement ran just prior to the Fourth of July.  Note the grocer’s price was 10¢ per bottle, twice the cost of other bottled soft drinks at the time.

(Figure 1895-22, Dixon Evening Telegraph, Dixon, Illinois, July 3, 1895)

The young boy in the straw hat returned for a full color, Fourth of July advertisement that graced the back cover of a weekly humor magazine.

(Figure 1895-23, Truth, July 1895, back cover, 14.0” x 12.0”)

A clever Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania bottler delivered free samples of Hires Root Beer to the local newspaper staff, resulting in this free advertising.  

(Figure 1895-24, Leader newspaper, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, July 17, 1895)

This blob top Hires bottle utilized a cork closure that was wired down and the contents further protected by a metal foil seal wrapped around the top.  The paper neck label indicates “None Genuine without bearing our Signature. The Charles E. Hires Co.”  The paper body label depicts a medal and is worded “Diplomas and Medals Awarded. Hires Improved Root Beer.  Sparkling, Delicious & Appetizing.  Bottled by The Charles E. Hires Co. Philadelphia, U.S.A.”   The base of the bottle is embossed “HIRES ROOTBEER PHILADLEPHIA, PA.”

(Figure 1895-25, Hires Improved Root Beer bottle)

This aqua Hires bottle retains the complete, original, paper labels.  The neck label reads “Charles E. Hires The Genuine First Prize.”  The round label just below the shoulder reads “KEEP THIS BOTTLE ON ITS SIDE IN A COOL PLACE – SPARKLING – Genuine has Signature of Charles E. Hires Co.”  The body label reads “DIPLOMAS AND MEDALS AWARDED – Hires (gold medals pictured) IMPROVED Rootbeer – Healthful, Sparkling, Appetizing.  Made from Sterilized and Distilled Water.  BOTTLED EXCLUSIVELY BY The Charles E. Hires Co. Philadelphia, PA.”

(Figure 1895-26, Hires Improved Rootbeer bottle, 9.5” tall)

This aqua Hires bottle bears the same paper labels as the example pictured above.  The top bottle indicates this bottle was specifically manufactured for use with Baltimore Loop Seal closures.  It is unknown whether the pictured bottle was initially sealed with a Loop Seal or the cork currently inserted into the mouth.     

(Figure 1895-27, Baltimore Loop Seal Hires bottle and base)

Charles E. Hires Company sales for 1895 were listed as 17,659,620 gallons.