Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



Anti-liquor law enforcement was impeded by the enormous profits being made in illegal liquor trafficking, plus the apathy and hostility of the general public.  Gangster Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

A bank panic caused many banks to close.  Fear the U.S. would go off the gold standard led to the widespread hoarding of gold. 

Vehicle sales plummeted, resulting in large-scale layoffs. 

U.S. unemployment reached 8%. 

An import tariff raised agricultural prices with extra protection for sugar and textiles.

The “Star-Spangled Banner” was adopted as the national anthem of the U.S.

The Empire State Building, the world’s tallest building, opened to the public.

The first nonstop flight across the Pacific Ocean was completed in 41 hours, 13 minutes.

The state of Nevada legalized gambling.

Newly introduced products and inventions included synthetic rubber, fiberglass, diesel tractors, Piper Cub aircraft, iron lung, ice vending machines, Clairol hair dye, Alka-Seltzer, and Bisquick baking mix.

7,592 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.  Per capita consumption was 38.3 bottles.

Hires produced a double-sided flyer announcing the “1931 Hires Extract Campaign” for marketing to retail outlets.  In addition to listing 30 magazines scheduled to carry Hires’ 1931 advertisements to millions of housewives, a look back stated “Hires Extract sales have doubled in the last four years,” 1930s sales were up almost 50% compared to 1929, and over one million free sample bottles of Hires Extract were distributed during 1930.  Focusing on marketing Hires Extract to housewives, “The 1931 Hires Extract Campaign is backed by far the largest appropriation in our history – more publications, larger space, more insertions.”  Clearly Hires hoped to build on their 1930 success.  The back of the flyer includes extract prices for consumers and retailers, plus illustrations showing countertop displays of Hires Root Beer, Hires Ginger Beer, and Hires Birch Beer cartons.  This flyer marked Hires’ last advertising use of an “i” with a slanted top in the word Hires.

(Figure 1931-01, 1931 Hires Extract Campaign flyer, front)

(Figure 1931-01, 1931 Hires Extract Campaign flyer, back)

This empty cardboard shipping and counter display carton is very similar to the one pictured in the 1931 Hires Extract Campaign flyer.  

(Figure 1931-02, cardboard shipping and counter display carton)

The double-sided “How To Make Hires Root Beer – Hires Ginger Beer – Hires Birch Beer” Hires Extract carton insert was updated for 1931.  One side folds into eight pages that include front and back covers, directions in English and “other Languages."  The other side is a full page with advertising copy stating “Hires Root Beer is made from the percolated juices of 16 herbs, roots, barks and berries – an exclusive formula for over 60 years.”  “Over 60 years” would have been 1871 or earlier, yet another attempt to push Hires’ founding date even earlier.  A coupon was also incorporated for ordering crown caps, and Eveready Cappers (the price dropped to $1.00 each).   This Extract insert version is coded “X1931 -S” and measures 3.0" x 4.25" when folded closed.


(Figure 1931-02.5, Hires Household Extract carton insert)

(Figure 1931-03, May, 1931)    

(Figure 1931-04, The Literary Digest, May 1931)

Similar versions of this advertisement ran between 1928 and 1932:

(Figure 1931-05, Collier’s, May 16, 1931)

This advertisement claimed “TODAY’S SENSATION in beverages is a 55-year favorite – not another experiment, not a fad.”  Fifty five years earlier was 1876, making this the earliest Hires publication specifically claiming Hires Root Beer originated in 1876. 

(Figure 1931-06, Collier’s, May 30, 1931)

This advertisement is a reworked version of the May 30, 1931 Collier’s magazine advertisement, including repeating the “55-year favorite” claim.

(Figure 1931-07, Saturday Evening Post, June 27, 1931)

Here are two examples of an advertisement that was first composed and published in the August, 1930 issue of Pictorial Review magazine.  The man’s image is repeated from the May, 1931 issue of The Literary Digest. 

(Figure 1931-08, National Geographic, June 1931)

(Figure 1931-09, Saturday Evening Post, July 4, 1931)

This woman’s image was repeated from the July 4, 1931 Saturday Evening Post.

(Figure 1931-10, McCall’s, August 31, 1931)

This young girl’s image was repeated from the July 4, 1931 Saturday Evening Post.

(Figure 1931-11, Collier’s August 31, 1931)