Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



President Roosevelt arranged a peace conference that ended the Russian and Japan war. 

The Supreme Court upheld state authority to enforce compulsory vaccination laws.

State laws limiting working hours were ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. 

The number of registered automobiles in the U.S. rose to 77,988.

With federal product legislation looming, the N. W. Ayer & Sons agency decided to no longer advertise patent medicines.

Popsicles were introduced.

Iron Brew and Iron Beer, two new soft drinks, were introduced.

(Figure 1905-01, tin tacker)

(Figure 1905-02, canvas banner, 13.0” x 49.0”)

The American Lithography Company in New York City produced this attractive poster.

(Figure 1905-03, paper poster, 30.0” x 42.0”)

C. Tielsch & Company in Silesia, Germany manufactured this porcelain mug.  It is 4.0" high with a 3.375" diameter, unmarked base. 

(Figure 1905-04, C. Tielsch & Company porcelain mug)

This porcelain mug was manufactured by Caldon Ware in England.  It measures 4.0" high with a 3.375" base diameter.

(Figure 1905-05, Caldon Ware porcelain mug, front)

(Figure 1905-05, Caldon Ware porcelain mug, base)

This porcelain china mug doesn't bear any maker's marks:

(Figure 1905-06, porcelain china mug, 2.5” high and 2.0” base diameter)

“The Story of Hires” published in the April, 1921 issue of the Printers’ Ink Monthly journal described a major change in direction for Hires in 1905.  The article’s author, Roy W. Johnson, introduced this development, followed by quoting Charles E. Hires’ comments:

Of course it is obvious that there have been many changes and new developments in the forty-odd years during which this product has been on the market.  Comparatively few products have come down to use from that early period, and most of them that have done so are in the class of staple necessities.  That a specialty so clearly in the luxury class as root beer has done so is no small tribute to the merchandising ability of its proprietor.  For just at the time when Hires’ Root Beer had attained its majority, so to speak, a new factor appeared on the scene which required an entire change of base so far as merchandising and distribution were concerned.  That factor was the soda fountain, primarily an adjunct of the drug trade, while the distribution of Hires’ Root Beer (household extract) was almost exclusively confined to the grocery trade.

“Of course the soda fountain had been in use for some years,” said Mr. Hires, “and druggists used to buy the household extract for the purpose of making their own root beer syrup.  There was a good deal of substitution going on all the time, and the customer who asked for root beer at a soda fountain might get ‘Hires’, but was quite likely to get some concoction put up by the druggist himself or by some wholesale drug house.  That was not very serious, because the soda-fountain trade did not amount to much anyway.  Then came the tremendous advertising campaigns for Coca-Cola and other ready-prepared syrups, which began to bring the soda-fountain trade into its own.  From a negligible factor the fountain became a very serious competitor.  The home brewing of root beer was driven farther and farther back into the strictly rural districts, and more and more people lined up in front of the marble and onyx counters to drink – something else.”

“But when I suggested putting out a fountain syrup, I came into conflict with my own sales force.  Their customers were the wholesale grocers, and to put out a fountain syrup would be competing with our own trade, they said.  On this account I hesitated, much longer than I should have done perhaps, and it was not until the season of 1905 that we put out any Hires’ syrup at all.  By that time it looked to a good many observers as if the market had gotten away from us indeed, and I was told more than once that it was a hopeless job to get distribution in a new field which already was plentifully supplied with ‘root beers’ of one kind or another. Advertising could not help me, some people said, because while it might be possible to persuade people to ask for ‘Hires’ Root Beer’ at the fountain, there was no possible way to prevent them from accepting any substitute root beer that came handy.”

“That these prognostications were unfounded is fairly evident, I think, from the fact that our sales of Hires’ Root Beer for 1920 were in excess of $5,000,000, and by far the greater part of it consisted of fountain syrup.  The story of the method adopted has already been told in Printers’ Ink.  It consisted, briefly, of an advertising campaign to induce the consuming public to ask for ‘Hires’ instead of ‘root beer,’ and a selling campaign based upon an automatic dispensing machine (a miniature soda fountain, in fact) which we called the Munimaker.”

(Figure 1905-07, Munimaker introductory booklet)

(Figure 1905-08, Munimaker Instruction Book)

A salesman’s sample Hires Munimaker in its original wooden carrying case sold for $70,000.00 at the auction of the Bill and Evelyn Thunell collection conducted by the Pettigrew Auction Company May 31, 1997.  Salesman’s samples were totally functional, just like the full size dispensers.

(Figure 1905-09, Munimaker salesman’s sample in original carrying case)

The marble base for a salesman’s sample Hires Munimaker was only 10.0” high.  The illustrated example has all of its original equipment, including a milk glass globe.

(Figure 1905-10, salesman’s sample Munimaker, front and right side)

This full-size Munimaker has a marble base, clear glass globe, and an onyx handle.

(Figure 1905-11, full size Munimaker, front and right side, 36.0” high)

(Figure 1905-11, full size Munimaker, back and left side, 36.0” high)

Like salesman's samples, full-size Munimakers were also produced with milk glass globes.  This example was photographed with a red background, hence the reflections.

(Figure 1905-11.5, full size Munimaker milk glass globe)

(Figure 1905-12, Collier’s magazine, 6.75” x 4.625”)

This coupon was issued by Hires’ Atlantic City branch office, located at New York Avenue and the Boardwalk, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The coupon could be redeemed by the holder for one free glass of Hires Rootbeer, pre-dating Hires’ implementation of the use of steins.

   (Figure 1905-13, paper coupon, front)

   (Figure 1905-13, paper coupon, back)

Storekeepers selling Hires Root Beer by the glass who didn’t sell enough to warrant investing in a Munimaker were offered ceramic, hour glass-shaped, syrup jars.  These 13.5” high examples are identical except one has a base spigot with a push button to initiate the flow of syrup into a glass, and the other has a base spigot with a handle that was turned to start and stop the flow of syrup.

(Figure 1905-14, syrup jar, push button spigot)   

(Figure 1905-15, syrup jar, turn handle spigot)

This paper sign’s copy reads: “Hires Lemonade – QUICKLY MADE – ABSOLUTELY PURE JUICE and FRUITS – NO DRUGS – NO CHEMICALS – 1 Bottle makes 20 gallons - 10¢.”  The pictured carton contained a bottle of Hires' Lemonade concentrate.  The image quality is marginal, but the sign is so rare it had to be included.

(Figure 1905-16, paper sign, 7.0” x 10.0”, Hires Family Archives)

A double-sided, pocket-sized, paper folder promoting Hires’ Carbonated flavors in bottles was headlined “Special Attention is called to our Beverages.”  The illustrated paper-labeled, crown top bottles included Hires Lemon Soda, Hires Club Soda, Hires Ginger Ale, and Hires Rootbeer.

(Figure 1905-17, paper folder)