Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



The Pan-American Exposition, a world’s fair held in Buffalo, New York, drew almost eight million attendees.  Technology displays included a 400’ electric tower, and a baby incubator building.  While attending the fair, President William McKinley was shot.  When he died eight days later, Theodore Roosevelt became the youngest U.S. President in American history at age 42. 

The Spindletop gusher in Texas launched one of the richest oil fields in history.

Cadillac Motor Company was founded, and Ransom Olds created the first assembly line for the production of Oldsmobiles, the first mass-produced, gasoline-powered vehicles.  Later in the year the Oldsmobile plant in Detroit, Michigan was destroyed by fire. 

New York became the first state to require automobile license plates.  They cost $1.00.

Electric street cars and interurban lines continued to expand.

The National Bureau of Standards was established to make weights and measures of consumer products more consistent.

Women prohibitionists destroyed twelve Kansas saloons.

Guglielmo Marconi received the first trans-Atlantic wireless message from England. 

The Victor Talking Machine Company acquired American rights to the painting of the dog Nipper listening to a phonograph with the caption “His Master’s Voice.”

King Camp Gillette announced plans to market a disposable razor.

Lionel trains were introduced.

The Coca-Cola Company’s advertising budget for the year reached $100,000.

Hires’ 1901 marketing plan was termed “A Big Push on Hires.”  Special offers were announced to dealers via a die-cut, double-sided, tri-fold mailer.  When folded for mailing, it looked like a Hires’ Improved Root Beer package and was prevented from opening by a stamp bearing an image of the Hires Boy and the message “HIRES TO OUR NEW COLONIES PEACE PROSPERITY FRATERNAL FRIENDSHIP.”  The mention of “OUR NEW COLONIES” was a reference to the United States’ acquisitions as a result of winning the Spanish-American War. 

(Figure 1901-01, “A Big Push on Hires” mailer, front)

(Figure 1901-01, “A Big Push on Hires” mailer, back)

Hires 1901 marketing plan mentioned “Jingle Jokes for Little Folks – beautifully illustrated in colors” booklets would be distributed by the “millions,” and that is not an exaggeration given how many have survived.  These booklets were produced by H. A. Thomas & Wylie Lithographing Company in New York City, and then printed and copyrighted by the Charles E. Hires Company. 

(Figure 1901-02, Jingle Jokes for Little Folks, front cover, pages 1-10, back cover)

(Figure 1901-03, McClure’s Magazine, April 1901)

(Figure 1901-04, Century, Outing, and The Junior Munsey magazines May 1901)

The “Big Push on Hires” continued via special offers to dealers such as this mailing:

(Figure 1901-05, “Big Push on Hires” envelope, front)

(Figure 1901-05, “Big Push on Hires” envelope, back)

This large “Between The Last Snow and the First Rose” flyer promoted Hires Rootbeer “For Your Blood.”  In addition to testimonials “from every State in the Union, praising it for its health-restoring virtues,” the copy specifies:

Hires Rootbeer contains more sarsaparilla than many blood purifiers sold and medicinal preparations.  It contains other roots, herbs and barks that have been used for centuries for their tonic and curative effects upon the blood and kidneys.

Hires Rootbeer is not only the most famous temperance beverage because of its delicious flavor, thirst-quenching qualities and cooling value, but it is also a health-renewing draught that relives dyspepsia, quiets the nerves, purifies the blood, benefits the kidney and cures insomnia.

Hires Rootbeer should be used in every household, between the last snow and the first rose, especially to avoid spring lassitude, bring roses to the cheeks of children, and give the vigor of perfect health during the enervating days of spring and early summer.

The company’s address was listed as both Malvern, Pennsylvania, and 203 North Third Street, St. Louis, Missouri. 

(Figure 1901-06, “Between The Last Snow and the First Rose” flyer)

(Figure 1901-07, McClure’s Magazine and Review of Reviews, June 1901)

“The Owl, the Parrot, and the big round Moon” booklet featured verses designed to entertain children and convince their parents to treat them to Hires Root Beer.

(Figure 1901-08, The Owl, the Parrot, and the big round Moon booklet, 2.5������ x 5.5��)

Here��s another example of an advertisement that was revised slightly for a later edition of the same periodical. 

(Figure 1901-09, Saturday Evening Post, June 8, 1901, and Ladies’ Home Journal, July 1, 1901)

(Figure 1901-10, Saturday Evening Post, revised and enlarged to 11.0” x 14.0”)

Continuing to expand use of the owl and parrot images, Hires produced this pocket mirror, a metal serving tray, and a very rare counter display paper mache’ owl.

(Figure 1901-11, pocket mirror)

(Figure 1901-12, metal serving tray)

(Figure 1901-13, counter display paper mache’ owl, 15.0” x 12.0”)

The bottles drawn for this advertisement are corked and tied off with string.

(Figure 1901-14, The Youth’s Companion, July 4, 1901

The base of this aqua, blob top bottle is embossed Hires Root Beer Philadelphia.  A Hires Patent Stopper served as a closure.

(Figure 1901-15, embossed, blob top bottle, 9.5” tall)

The image of the mother and two children used for the back cover of the Jingle Jokes for Little Folks booklet was reused for a 4.875" x 3.875" “Making Hires Rootbeer at Home” trade card produced by the American Lithographic Company of New York City and copyrighted in 1901 by Hires.  The back of the illustrated card is missing text at the left center.      

(Figure 1901-16, “Making Hires Rootbeer at Home” trade card, front)

(Figure 1901-16, “Making Hires Rootbeer at Home” trade card, back)