Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



Ford Motor Company introduced a minimum $5.00 per day wage, doubling the wages for most employees, reducing work days from nine to eight hours, and offered employees profit sharing.  These changes boosted assembly line productivity and fostered company loyalty and pride.

When war began in Europe the U.S. was completely unprepared.  President Wilson planned to keep the U.S. out of the conflict, believing America would bring the warring parties to a conference table and help them fashion a lasting peace.

The Panama Canal officially opened to traffic August 15, 1914.

The Coca-Cola Bottlers’ Association was organized in Atlanta, Georgia.

Newly introduced products included electronic remote controls, and Tinkertoys.

5,463 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.  Per capita consumption was 18.9 bottles.

Hires introduced and began distribution of The Hires Un-Natural History booklet in mid-1913 (see Figure 1913-05).  This 3.0” x 4.5” promotional item was “a little book of animal pictures so arranged that by folding the pages in different ways you can make the funniest animals you ever saw…The book will set the whole family in a roar and it will keep you all guessing to see how many animals can be conjured out of the pages.”  Early in 1914 Hires followed-up by developing a contest challenging customers to use the booklet and send in lists of combinations of animal names.  Entrants were welcome to submit multiple entries, “BUT EACH LIST MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY THE FACE OF A HIRES EXTRACT PACKAGE.”  The contest closed September 1, 1914.  Here’s the booklet’s front cover followed by examples of several pages: 

(Figure 1914-01, Hires Un-Natural History booklet, front cover)

Figure 1914-01, Hires Un-Natural History booklet, sample pages)

The transition of Charles Elmer Hires’ sons into management of the company gradually brought about changes in the marketing of Hires’ products.  Believing the Hires Boy might have outlived his usefulness, a decision was made to update Hires’s image by introducing a cartoonish, bug-eyed soda jerk as Hires’ new spokesman.  The as-yet-unnamed soda jerk was introduced nationally via advertisements that ran in the American Sunday Monthly newspaper supplement.

(Figure 1914-02, American Sunday Monthly, June 7, 1914)

(Figure 1914-03, American Sunday Monthly, June 14, 1914)

The new Hires spokesman soon appeared on signs such as this example.  Note: the photo was taken at a slight angle; the upper portion of the sign is actually a true circle, rather than oval.

(Figure 1914-04, die-cut, cardboard sign)

 (Figure 1914-05, die-cut, cardboard sign, 29.0” x 34.0”)

Continuing the baseball theme, Hires distributed this hand-held, celluloid counter used to track the home and visiting team's runs and outs.  Rotating the built-in wheels also moved the Hires spokesman's eyes and mouth.  This counter was patented June 6, 1905 by The Whitehead and Hoag Company, Newark, New Jersey. 

(Figure 1914-06, baseball counter, front, 3.0" x 3.0")

(Figure 1914-06, baseball counter, back, 3.0" x 3.0")

(Figure 1914-07, embossed tin sign, 9.0” x 15.75”)

(Figure 1914-08, cardboard sign, 10.0” x 14.0”)

(Figure 1914-09, magazine advertisement, August 9, 1914, 2.25” x 4.0”)

(Figure 1914-10, tin serving tray, 13.0” diameter)

(Figure 1914-11, die-cut, cardboard sign)

(Figure 1914-12, die-cut, cardboard fan pull, 6.0” x 7.5”)

One side of this four-bladed pocketknife features the new spokesman’s image and reads “HIRES.”  The other side bears the Hires Boy’s image and reads “DRINK HIRES.”

(Figure 1914-13, pocketknife, 1.0” x 2.0”)

(Figure 1914-14, metal cigar cutter)

Twin Size Beverages distributed this metal, baseball player-shaped bottle opener advertising Hires Root Beer.  This opener was patented August 16, 1914.

(Figure 1914-15, baseball player bottle opener, front, 3.25” long)

(Figure 1914-15, baseball player bottle opener, back, 3.25” long)