Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



The Gross National Product was half of 1929’s level with business losses at $6 billion.  Vehicle sales fell to one-fifth of 1929’s level.  Over 5,000 banks closed.  Average weekly wages dropped 60% to $17.00, down $11.00 from 1929 levels.  Public works programs were planned to alleviate unemployment which jumped to 25%.   

President Hoover granted generous credit to industry and ordered a reduction in government spending, but his plans didn’t work and voters opted for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” electing him President in a Democratic landslide.

Charles A. Lindbergh, Jr. was kidnapped and found dead.  Outraged public opinion made kidnapping a federal crime carrying the death penalty.

Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.

U.S. Route 66 opened.

Newly introduced products and inventions included Polaroid film, Zippo lighters, parking meters, Three Musketeers candy bars, Fritos, and Skippy Peanut Butter.

The federal soft drink tax implemented during WWI was revived as a revenue measure.

7,537 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.  Per capita consumption was 27.1 bottles.

Steve Sourapas' father, James Sourapas, started distributing Hires Root Beer in the early 1920s.  Unfortunately, Hires notified him March 14, 1932 that they were cancelling his franchise:

We hereby give formal notice of our intention to terminate, sixty days from this date, the Hires franchise agreement which we have with you.  We appreciate the business you have given us in the past, but we do not feel that the volume has been large enough to warrant a continuation of the Franchise.  We are sure you will understand our position.

Steve indicated "Volume wasn’t the only issue, as Dad was also carrying Dr. Swett’s Root Beer.  Furthermore, he had ignored an order from Hires to stop bottling their product in 6.5 ounce bottles at 5¢ and step up to 12 ounce bottles for 10¢.  Dad resisted because a taller bottle required more syrup and he would have had to invest in a new supply of bottles and discard the others.  The Hires district manager liked my Dad and for a while continued to fill his orders for syrup, extract, kegs, steins, and glasses.  Hires finally picked up all of Dad’s remaining Hires supplies in 1938."

(Figure 1932-01, Saturday Evening Post, April 16, 1932)

The front of this cardboard hanging tag certified “Hires R-J Root Beer is flavored with pure juices of roots, herbs, barks and berries…(signed) Joseph H. Perkins, Chemist.” Joseph Perkins was a long-time Hires employee.  The tag was notarized May 6, 1932 in an attempt to add credibility to this thinly-disguised advertisement.  Advertising aside, this tag documents the earliest usage of the phrase “Hires R-J Root Beer.”

(Figure 1932-02, Hires R-J Root Beer syrup container tag, front)

(Figure 1932-02, Hires R-J Root Beer syrup container tag, back)

The paper labels used for mailing free samples of Hires Extracts were updated with “Drink Hires Root Beer For Thirst And Cheer” signage.  Hires began paying 3¢ in postage to mail free samples. 


(Figure 1932-03, cardboard mailing tube for a free sample, three views)

This advertisement marks Hires’ switch to using half tone photographs instead of artist renderings.

(Figure 1932-04, Woman’s Home Companion, June 1932)

This advertisement repeats use of the cornucopia image from earlier advertisements.  "Famous for 56 years” is another attempt to establish Hires Root Beer’s founding date as 1876.

(Figure 1932-05, magazine advertisement, June 18, 1932)

(Figure 1932-05.5, magazine advertisement, Saturday Evening Post)

(Figure 1932-06, magazine advertisement, Collier’s, June 25, 1932)

Hires placed advertisements in several July, 1932 magazines announcing “1,250,000,000 glasses of Hires Root Beer were served last year.” 

The identical front and back sides of this one gallon Finished Syrup tin bear the last logo used prior to introduction of the Hires R-J Root Beer logo.  The illustrated fountain glass image is etched “Hires Root Beer Healthful Delicious.”  One side panel reads “MORE SALES.  MORE PROFITS.  ITS DELICIOUSNESS AND WHOLESOMENESS KNOWN EVERYWHERE.”   

(Figure 1932-07, Hires Finished Syrup tin, 9.75” high, 5.75” wide, 4.0” deep)

These three signs were the first to bear the newly designed Hires R-J Root Beer logo.  No definition of what the “R-J” represented was include.  Note the word Hires is positioned fully inside the blue circle.

(Figure 1932-08, wooden sign, 10.0” tall x 40.0” wide x .25” thick)

(Figure 1932-09, wooden sign, 10.0” tall x 40.0” wide x .25” thick)

This sign was designed to appear as if it is surrounded by crushed ice: 

(Figure 1932-10, lithographed, die-cut, cardboard sign)

These ink blotters introduced the definition of R-J as "Real Juices.”

(Figure 1932-11, cardboard ink blotter, 6.0” x 3.75”)

(Figure 1932-12, cardboard ink blotter, 6.0” x 3.75”)

A 16.0" x 14.0" version of this tin hanging sign was also produced:

(Figure 1932-13, tin hanging sign, 36.0” square)

This fountain sign was designed to be hung from a ceiling or beam. 

(Figure 1932-14, tin hanging fountain sign, 14.0” x 13.0”)

The White Taverns chain teamed with Hires to produce attractive cardboard signs advertising “A Bonded Hamburger and a Stein of Hires R-J Root Beer.”  Note the underlined R and J in Real Juices, an increased attempt at visually defining “R-J.”

(Figure 1932-15, cardboard sign)