Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



Prohibitionists stepped up their campaign.  Portions of New York, Ohio, and Colorado banned saloons, while making or selling liquor became illegal in Tennessee.  The liquor faction argued prohibition would lead to fraud, secret drinking, and drug abuse.

The Ford Model T, “a motor car for the multitude,” was introduced October 1st. 

William Howard Taft was elected President of the U.S.

8,000 to 10,000 nickelodeons in the U.S. drew an estimated 200,000 customers per day.

Newly introduced products included the electric kitchen mixer and cellophane.  General Electric patented the electric iron and electric toaster.

Five gallon Hires Fountain Syrup tins were packaged in wooden cases to prevent damage during shipping.

(Figure 1908-01, five gallon Hires Fountain Syrup tin)

Hires added illustrations of the medals and awards the company won at fairs and expositions to their paper labels.  This example was “BOTTLED AND DISTRIBUTED BY S. CANNON & CO., BURLINGTON, VERMONT.”  The wording across the top reads “ITS USE IS A HEALTHY HABIT.”

(Figure 1908-02, crown top bottle with paper label, 9.75” high)

The following four newspaper advertisements ran in Philadelphia during 1908:

(Figure 1908-03, newspaper advertisement)

(Figure 1908-04, newspaper advertisement)

(Figure 1908-05, newspaper advertisement)

This advertisement indicates Purock was “Delivered by our wagons to all parts of the city in sealed, sterilized bottles at 40¢ the case.  From Druggists at 15¢ the gallon."

(Figure 1908-06, newspaper advertisement)

Hires introduced another new product in 1908: “Try Hires Cork Securers.  Fit any bottle.  Last forever.  10¢ a dozen postpaid.”

(Figure 1908-08, newspaper advertisement, July 14, 1908)

(Figure 1908-09, newspaper advertisement)

(Figure 1908-10, The Bulletin, Philadelphia)

This easel-backed, cardboard display held 24 Hires' Cork Fasteners.

(Figure 1908-11, Hires’ Cork Fasteners cardboard display, 15.0” x 13.0”)

(Figure 1908-11.5, Philadelphia newspaper advertisement)

These stoneware syrup jars were manufactured by Robert M. Green & Sons in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Each has “Drink Hires 5¢” printed on both sides.  This was the first dispenser Hires utilized with a pump that had a spigot at the top, rather than at the base.  This design change was made to eliminate problems with sugar in the fountain syrup hardening over time, causing base-installed spigots to clog.  The illustrated examples are 15.0" tall with 8.0" diameter bases.  They have slightly different style pumps.

(Figure 1908-12, stoneware syrup jar with top pump spigot)

(Figure 1908-13, stoneware syrup jar with top pump spigot)

The base of this stoneware mug was stamped by the International Pottery Company, the Trenton, New Jersey firm that manufactured these mugs.

(Figure 1908-14, stoneware mug, front, 4.0” tall, 3.0” base diameter)

(Figure 1908-14, stoneware mug, back, 4.0” tall, 3.0” base diameter)

Charles E. Hires included these comments in “Some Advertising Reminiscences 1869-1913:”

The transition period in our business came when the bulk of the soft-drink trade was shifted from the cellar at home to the soda fountain on the corner.  It brought with it a whole lot of new problems, among which was our old friend substitution in a more subtle guise than ever.  How was the consumer going to know whether he was served with Hires at the fountain or with something else?  When he bought a package of the household extract to take home, he could read the proprietor’s name on the label, but there is no label on a glass of root beer at a soda fountain.  Labeling glasses won’t solve it, because the clerk will keep the bottle under the counter where the customer can’t see it.  Indeed, I hesitated a long time about putting a fountain syrup on the market because of those facts, and because I felt that it was necessary to the success of the drink that the syrup and water be mixed more accurately than the average soda clerk is accustomed to handle them.

The dispensing machine which we call the “Munimaker” solved both problems at once.  It mixes the syrup and the soda water automatically and instantly, in exactly the right proportions.  It identifies the resulting drink as Hires, for the dealer would be a bold pirate indeed who would venture to serve any other kind of root beer syrup through the machine.  He would be liable for violating the patent laws and his contract, and we would catch him without delay because his purchases of Hires syrup with us would stop while he was substituting, and one of our men would be around to see if his machine was out of order.

Best of all, the Munimaker has opened up a great many new channels for the sale of the goods – in places which do not provide regular soda fountains.  We have installed a great many in department stores, in Y.M.C.A. buildings, and even in saloons.

Here is another instance where Hires sent advertising copy to a publication that printed it word for word.  This “article” ran in the November, 1908 issue of The Druggists Circular trade journal.

Hires’ Automatic “Munimaker.”

On pages 52 and 53 of this issue the Charles E. Hires Company, Broad and Vine streets, Philadelphia, offers to soda water dispensers the ‘munimaker,��� a new automatic dispensing apparatus for Hires’ root beer.  Concerning this new dispenser and its development, the company says:

“The invention of the Hires automatic ‘munimaker’ has back of it a very interesting history.  While working with the soda-fountain trade we were continually confronted with two conditions which we knew should not exist.  First, that Hires’ root beer was not being rightly dispensed; second, that no soda fountain drink was being dispensed with the right profit.

“The second condition was due to the first.  Under the prevailing method of dispensing at the soda fountain, the dispenser was compelled to guess the amount of syrup necessary to be used for each drink.  Guess work always means waste, as it is impossible for a dispenser in his haste to gauge exactly with the eye – in guessing he invariably overdrew the amount of syrup necessary for the drink.  This comes from the fact that a customer is less apt to complain if the drink is too heavy than if it is too light.  Therefore the dispenser does nothing more than anyone else would do.  He moves along the lines of least resistance.

"We gained nothing through the dispenser’s drawing too much syrup because it tended to make the drink unsatisfactory, and the dispenser gained nothing because he lost a fraction of an ounce of syrup with each drink, which properly belonged to his profits.

“Anyone owning a soda fountain, who is interested in these things, can learn a great deal by a little investigation and this investigation can apply to himself as well as to those under him.  He has but to ascertain by actual count the number of drinks he gets from each gallon of syrup.  This can be done by measuring the syrup in the morning; keeping track of the number of drinks of each flavor served during the day, and then measuring the syrup at night.  This is about what he will find – that a gallon of syrup requiring one ounce to the glass will produce about 100 drinks and the syrup requiring two ounces to the glass will produce 51 or 52 drinks.  As a matter of fact, he should get 128 drinks from each gallon of one-ounce-to-the-glass syrup and 64 drinks from a two-ounce-to-the-glass syrup.  This loss is so gradual that is scarcely perceptible in the individual drink.

“We believed that if we could make an apparatus that would serve Hires right and give the dispenser a profit which he was entitled to, we would find a ready market for it.  This was very readily proven in the distribution of the Hires dispensing keg and the fact that the dispenser was willing to pay a fair price was promptly shown, for we started to market this apparatus at $25.  Finding we could not make it at that figure we raised the price to $50, and then to $75.  Each time we raised the price we made the apparatus better, and each time we raised the price dispensers bought more of them until by the time we discontinued its distribution we had the output up to more than 6,000.

“During all this time we were carrying on active experiments and in this process we finally discovered that the faults of the keg were insurmountable.  We also found that we could not patent the keg for, though it was original with us, it contained no novel feature.  Wood is a very difficult article to handle mechanically.  We then tried to eliminate the wood by experimenting with a metal keg for one whole year, in our place of business, putting it through the same trial it would have to undergo at the soda fountain.  It failed to make good for several reasons.  This discovery practically eliminated the keg, and necessitated our trying something different altogether.  In this latest move we determined to be original as well as novel, so that would not only patent the design but the mechanism, and, thus came about the Hires automatic ‘munimaker.’  We put this through eighteen months of counter practice before we announced it to the trade.  To go into details of how it reached its present equipment would mean simply a recountal of a number of petty obstacles, some of which were almost large enough to throw the apparatus out of service.  The vagaries of gas pressure, for instance, are something little known to the average man.  Suffice it to say that the final outcome is an apparatus which we believe to be perfect in every respect.  We shall of course go on making alterations here and there in the direction of improvements but it is the one apparatus which shall hereafter be identified with Hires as an automatic dispenser.  It has all the points essential to make this so: mechanism that will work and materials that will last.  It is an apparatus wholly in harmony with the finest store fixtures.  Its simplicity of operation cannot fail to appeal to everyone.  It will find its place on every soda fountain because it helps the dispenser to produce 140 drinks to the gallon of Hires as against 100 when dispensed by the usual guess method.  That means 40 drinks more than the dispenser will make from any other five-cent syrup, or $2.  Two dollars to the gallon means $100 to the barrel.  It is not difficult to see that the dispenser is thus enormously the gainer in dollars and cents.

“We have made it necessary for us to sell forty drinks more to each gallon of syrup than the dispenser would get in the usual guess method.  This is an evidence of our confidence in the apparatus and we are willing to sell forty drinks more to the gallon for him, in order to get a better flavor for we know that once a dispenser gets Hires just as he wants it, he will want more Hires syrup and there will be more people who will drink Hires.  We send him 2,000 more customers and he gets 2,000 more drinks to the single barrel of syrup.

“We do not doubt for a moment that the ‘munimaker’ will find a tremendous success because it means a tremendous profit to every man who has it on his counter.”

This Munimaker advertisement ran on facing pages in The Western Druggist magazine. 

(Figure 1908-15, The Western Druggist, November 1908, page 8)

(Figure 1908-15, The Western Druggist, November 1908, page 9)

This single page advertisement was placed in The Western Druggist the following month.

(Figure 1908-16, The Western Druggist, December 1908)

The front cover of the December, 1908 issue of The Soda Fountain monthly journal pictured a storekeeper using a Munimaker to fill a Hires stein.

(Figure 1908-17, The Soda Fountain, front cover, December 1908)