Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



A new tax code prompted a 40% reduction in child labor, impacting coal mining and canning.

Printer’s Ink cautioned against “an insidious campaign to create women smokers” as a reaction to cigarette advertisements that portrayed women in “smart social settings.”

Newly introduced products included the timed, pop-up, automatic electric toaster.

A 10% federal excise tax on soft drinks took effect in February as a wartime measure.

5,194 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.  Per capita consumption was 38.4 bottles.

The Hires Jar had undergone a major design change to a top pump, eliminating previous problems with sugar settling out of the syrup and clogging the base-installed spigots in earlier versions of the jar.  Until June 1, 1919 these jars were loaned to storekeepers without charge in conjunction with an order for 25 gallons of Hires Finished Syrup, or five gallons of Hires Concentrated Syrup.  Hires Red Diamond kegs were leased in four sizes: baby (8 gallon), small (17 gallon), large (45 gallon), and large (45 gallon) with double faucets.  A Hires draft arm was also available on a lease basis.  Sixteen ounce, stoneware Hires steins (“The stein that holds the chill”) sold for $4.00 per dozen. 

(Figure 1919-01, soft drink industry catalog)

A pocket-sized booklet promoted the four sizes of Hires’ Red Diamond dispensing kegs.

(Figure 1919-02, Distinctive Quality booklet)

Seventeen gallon Hires Red Diamond kegs were leased perpetually to storekeepers for $100.00 in conjunction with their order for 50 gallons of Hires Finished Syrup, or 10 gallons of Hires Concentrated Syrup.  A dozen stoneware steins were provided for free.  Instructional decals were affixed to the keg in between the upper hoops.  The top decal stated "DO NOT POLISH HOOPS.  WIPE HOOPS AND BARREL WITH OILED CLOTH OCCASIONALLY."  The lower decal warned "NOTICE: TURN LEVER OFF AFTER EACH DRINK IS DRAWN (3 SECONDS) OTHERWISE NO SYRUP WILL BE IN FOLLOWING DRINK.  IF AUTOMATIC CARBONATOR IS USED, DRINKS CAN BE DRAWN CONTINUOUSLY WITHOUT TURNING LEVER OFF BY REMOVING MEASURING FEATURES.  SEE INSTRUCTION CARD." 

(Figure 1919-03, Hires Red Diamond keg, 26.5” tall)

Some Hires Red Diamond kegs featured rectangular brass signage.  This 15.0" x 9.0" example suffered numerous bends and scratches during its many years of service.  

(Figure 1919-03.5, Hires Red Diamond keg brass sign)

This stoneware stein is 5.5" tall and the base diameter is 3.75".

(Figure 1919-04, stoneware stein)

(Figure 1919-04, stoneware stein, base)

This smaller stoneware stein is 4.125" tall and the base diameter is 2.875".

(Figure 1919-05, stoneware stein)

This heavy, flint (clear) glass fountain syrup display bottle bears an etched red label reading “Drink Hires It Is Pure.”

(Figure 1919-06, flint glass fountain syrup display bottle)

The diamond logo was also used for this clear, glass mug.  The upper half has flashed-on, ruby red coloring like that used for souvenir glassware at state and county fairs during the same era.  The label reads “Drink Hires It Is Pure” (a color photo was not available.)

(Figure 1919-07, glass mug, 3.0” tall, 2.0” diameter)

(Figure 1919-08, cardboard hanger, 6.0” x 8.0”)

This flat, wooden, yellow, lead pencil reads “DRINK Hires – IT IS PURE.”

(Figure 1919-09, yellow lead pencil)

This flat, wooden, black-and-white, lead pencil reads “Hires Rootbeer.”

(Figure 1919-10, black-and-white lead pencil)

Hires introduced this redesigned, hourglass-shaped, ceramic syrup jar in 1919.  It has a semi-automatic top pump and updated graphics. 

(Figure 1919-11, ceramic syrup jar, 13.5” tall not including the pump)


(Figure 1919-11, ceramic syrup jar base)

This poster pictures a newly re-designed Hires syrup jar with a top pump, along with a full glass of root beer.

(Figure 1919-12, paper poster, 23.0” x 13.0”)

A similar poster pictures a paper labeled Hires crown top bottle and an empty root beer glass.  The U.S. Printing and Lithograph Company produced this item that was assigned item number B-7-C.

(Figure 1919-13, paper poster, 20.5” x 11.0”)

The same image of a woman and child appeared on the cover of the insert included with cartons of Hires Root Beer and Hires Ginger Ale Extract.  In addition to advertising Hires’ Expansion Bottle Stoppers, Patent Stopper Bottles, crown caps, and Everedy Cappers, the insert claimed:

More than fifty years ago, remembering the delight he had taken as a child in the old-fashioned rootbeer – laboriously concocted from roots and berries by country folks – Charles E. Hires decided to put up a rootbeer extract for home use.  He consulted leading physicians in deciding upon a mixture of roots, barks, herbs and berries that would produce the most healthful and well balanced drink possible.

Clearly a copywriter opting to embellish the facts made up these claims.  "More than fifty years ago" would have been pre-1869.  Likewise, no primary resource material confirms Charles E. Hires consulted physicians when concocting the formula for Hires Root Beer. 

A larger-sized version of this advertisement ran in Life magazine:

(Figure 1919-14, Saturday Evening Post and The Literary Digest, May 10, 1919)

(Figure 1919-15, Saturday Evening Post, May 24, 1919 and The Literary Digest, May 31, 1919)

(Figure 1919-16, Life, June 5, 1919)

(Figure 1919-17, Saturday Evening Post, June 7, 1919 and The Literary Digest, June 14, 1919)

The older woman is holding a paper fan that reads “Drink Hires It is pure.”  Readers were advised to “Get Hires in thin glasses, or creamy in the big stone mugs.  At all good soda fountains.”

(Figure 1919-18, Saturday Evening Post, June 21, 1919)

Readers' eyes are quickly drawn to the overly large, out-of-scale Hires jar on the marble counter.

(Figure 1919-19, Life, July 3, 1919)

According to the Federal Trade Commission on Milk and Milk Products, “the Wildi and Hires (Condensed Milk) companies, relatively small producers in 1914 and 1915, came under the influence or control of Nestle’ in 1915 or 1916, and later were formally purchased.”  A July 14, 1919 letter from Nestle’ to the FTC indicated Nestle’ had taken control of several Hires plants during World War I, and “the purchase was made upon the solicitation and desire of the previous owner.”

This advertisement was used extensively in the late summer of 1919. 

(Figure 1919-20, Saturday Evening Post, July 26, 1919, Leslie’s Weekly, August 2, 1919, The American Magazine, August 19, 1919, and a slightly different format in The Literary Digest, August 2, 1919)

Continuing to target market families, Hires had the U. S. Printing and Lithography Company produce The Enchanted Book, a 12 page booklet containing a fantasy story for children, while promoting Hires Household Extract, plus Hires at fountains and in bottles.  The cover art repeats the mother and child image used for the “Precious Health” posters.

(Figure 1919-21, The Enchanted Book)

(Figure 1919-22, 1919 Hires Price List of Hires Fountain Syrup)

Hires completed purchase of the Central Dos Rosas sugar plantation in Cuba November 18, 1919 (see 1918 chapter for details).  Here’s how The Story of Hires reflected on this acquisition in 1948:

(Figure 1919-23, The Story of Hires)