Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



D. W. Griffith’s landmark motion picture, The Birth of a Nation, opened in Los Angeles. 

The Lusitania was sunk without warning by a German submarine drowning 1,198 people.  American indignation over the sinking influenced U.S. entry into World War I in 1917.

The Victor Talking Machine Company introduced the Victrola phonograph.

Taxicabs appeared when automobile owners discovered people would pay for rides.

The one millionth Model T rolled off the Ford Motor Company’s assembly line December 10, 1915.

A new mile run record of 4:12:6 was set in Cambridge, Massachusetts by Norman Taber.

The initial design of the hobbleskirt Coca-Cola bottle was patented by Alexander Samuelson and assigned to the Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indiana.

New soft drinks included Delaware Punch, and several “cloudy” orange drinks.

Victor M. Earle of New York City received a patent March 9, 1915 for the design used to create a 12 page Hires Extracts booklet featuring a children’s story and recipes.  Earle’s United States patent 1131494 describes his “story picture device” as follows:

This invention has for its subject to provide a story picture device, for the amusement of children and others, which will be of such a character as to successively represent different scenes, appearing on parts of a folding leaf or sheet, in such a manner that a story may be progressively told in pictures by folding or unfolding the said leaf or sheet.  The folding picture section will preferably be used in connection with what may be termed a permanent picture section, and to which permanent picture section the scenes on the folding section will have a fitting relation, although the folding leaf or sheet may also be used by itself, to progressively tell a story in pictures, simply by folding up or unfolding the same.  The story picture devices, comprising sheets of either of the different forms just referred to, will preferably be bound together in the form of a book of which these different sheets will constitute the leaves, each leaf being intended to tell its own story; or a story may be progressively told by the medium of several leaves each having folding sections, all as will hereinafter more fully appear.

Instructions on the back of the Hires Extracts booklet explained how to read the verses and view the pictures.

(Figure 1915-01, Hires Extracts booklet)

Hires' new advertising spokesman, the cartoonish, bug-eyed soda jerk, was named “Josh Slinger” via a 1914 contest.  Hires announced a follow-up contest in 1915.  (Note: the next two illustrations are presented as split panels because of the full page size of the original advertisements.)   

(Figure 1915-02, Saturday Evening Post & Leslie’s, May 6, 1915)

(Figure 1915-03, Saturday Evening Post, May 15, 1915)

Once the 2015 sayings contest started, advertising bearing Josh Slinger’s likeness began carrying his signature. 

(Figure 1915-04, cardboard hanger, 10.0” x 14.0”)

(Figure 1915-05, cardboard sign, 14.0” x 17.75”)

This 4.625" x 6.125" advertisement was placed in three publications June 5, 1915.

(Figure 1915-06, Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s, and National Sunday)

(Figure 1915-07, tin serving tray, 13.25" diameter

The Whitehead & Hoag Company of Newark, New Jersey manufactured this “Crystoglas” sign for Hires.  The trademarked Crystoglas process involved placing metal foil over reverse embossed lettering, producing a three-dimensional, reflective metallic look.  The back is cardboard. 

(Figure 1915-08, Crystoglas hanger, 6.0” x 9.0”)

(Figure 1915-09, Collier’s, June 26, 1915, and Leslie’s, July 8, 1915)    

(Figure 1915-10, Leslie’s July 15, 1915, and Collier’s, July 17, 1915)

This 5.0" x 4.5" Charleston, South Carolina newspaper advertisement offered a dozen pints of either Hires Root Beer or Hires Ginger Ale for 90¢.  A bottle deposit was also likely charged, given the grocer's mention of a "15¢ Rebate for MT Bottles."

(Figure 1915-10.5, newspaper advertisement, Charleston, South Carolina)

(Figure 1915-11, paper poster, 8.0” x 20.0”)

These two Villeroy & Boch ceramic mugs have different style handles.  The top portion of the first mug’s handle rises at a 45° angle, while the top portion of the second mug’s handle is almost flat.

(Figure 1915-12, Villeroy & Boch mug, 5.0” x 3.0”)

(Figure 1915-13, Villeroy & Boch mug, 5.0” x 2.75”)

Villeroy & Boch also manufactured ceramic coin coasters/trays for Hires. 

(Figure 1915-14, coin coaster/tray, 4.0” diameter)

(Figure 1915-15, Villeroy & Boch ceramic tankard, right side, 8.5” tall)

(Figure 1915-15, Villeroy & Boch ceramic tankard, left side, 8.5” tall)

(Figure 1915-15, Villeroy & Boch ceramic tankard, lid)

(Figure 1915-15, Villeroy & Boch ceramic tankard, base)

(Figure 1915-16, Villeroy & Boch ceramic serving bowl)

(Figure 1915-17, ceramic saucer, 4.5” diameter)

(Figure 1915-18, label under glass syrup bottle, courtesy of the Wong collection)

The H. D. Beach Company of Coshocton, Ohio manufactured this 20.0" x 28.0" embossed tin sign.

(Figure 1915-19, embossed tin sign, courtesy of the Wong collection)

This tin serving tray was also manufactured by the H.D. Beach Company of Coshocton, Ohio. 

(Figure 1915-20, tin serving tray, 13.0” diameter)

The Swayze Advertising Company in Canton, Pennsylvania manufactured this canvas sign.  

(Figure 1915-21, canvas sign, 12.0” x 36.0”)

Sentenne & Green of New York City manufactured this embossed tin sign.

(Figure 1915-22, embossed tin sign, courtesy of Mike Godown)

Philadelphia’s Excelsior Iron Sign Works made a similar embossed tin sign for Hires.

(Figure 1915-23, embossed tin sign, 8.0” x 14.0”)

This metal watch fob’s design is slightly different than the one produced for Hires in 1910 (see Figure 1910-11).

(Figure 1915-24, watch fob)

The handwritten description on the back of this black-and-white photograph reads “Hires Mixer 12/2/15 – Order 6519 – Root Beer.”  Hires utilized this mixer to combine the ingredients used to make root beer syrup.

(Figure 1915-25, Hires mixer)

In late 1915 a decision was made to discontinue Josh Slinger’s two year run as Hires’ advertising spokesman.  Hires’ staff was using up the remaining stock of pre-printed Josh Slinger envelopes when this example was mailed September 25, 1916. 

(Figure 1915-26, Josh Slinger envelope)

These photographs of Charles Elmer Hires were taken circa 1915 when he was 65 years of age. 

(Figure 1915-27, Charles Elmer Hires, circa 1915)