Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



U.S. industry enjoyed a highly productive year with smooth labor-management relations. 

The Truman administration and Congress disagreed over the supposed presence of communists in U.S. government positions.  Two million federal employees were ultimately investigated, with 526 resigning and 98 dismissed. 

Congress passed the Marshall Aid Act, a $6.2 billion foreign aid bill, to aid economic recovery of 16 European countries following World War II.

The Soviet blockade of Berlin, Germany was broken by a U.S. airlift resupplying the city.

The United States recognized Israel as a country.

The Supreme Court ruled public school religious education violated the First Amendment.

The Selective Service Act required draft registration for all 18-25 year old men.

Harry S Truman was re-elected President of the United States.

Vanport, Oregon was destroyed when a section of a dike along the Columbia River collapsed.

Fresh Kills, the world’s largest landfill, opened in Staten Island, New York.

Polaroid Land Cameras that processed prints in one minute went on sale.

One million American households owned television sets.

The “Hopalong Cassidy” television show premiered on NBC.

New York subway fares were doubled from 5¢ to 10¢.

The National Association for Stock Car Racing (NASCAR) was founded.

Newly introduced products and inventions included magnetic tape recorders, 33 1/3 long-playing records, Dial soap, Baskin-Robbins ice cream, V-8 juice, Fender Broadcaster electric guitars, Nikon cameras, Scrabble games, Velcro, and radial tires.

Glass manufacturers offered the soft drink industry non-returnable bottles.

6,803 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.  Per capita consumption was 164.4 bottles.  Industry production exceeded one billion cases for the first time.

(Figure 1948-01, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 1, front cover)

The inside front cover article for Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 1 focused on a current Hires poster, with profiles on Nick Hufford, the artist, and Sylvia MacNeill, the model.  Hufford is best known as the illustrator who created the Quaker Oats man and Aunt Jemima advertising images.     

(Figure 1948-01, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 1, inside front cover)

A two page article profiled Andrew Hrestu and his Portland Bottling Company, a long-time Hires bottler in Portland, Oregon.  Note the huge, revolving Hires sign atop the bottling plant building.

(Figure 1948-01, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 1, page 8)

(Figure 1948-01, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 1, page 9)

Over 4,000 Hires automatic dispensers were placed in operation during 1947.  Testimonials revealed installations at theatres, drug stores, amusement parks, bowling alleys, and restaurants.

(Figure 1948-01, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 1, back cover)

A Hires-owned bottling plant was opened in Albany, New York in January.  Company-owned bottling plants in Brooklyn, New York and Memphis, Tennessee were opened in February.

This bottle topper features model Sylvia MacNeill toasting viewers with a glass of Hires.

(Figure 1948-02, cardboard bottle topper, 8.0” x 10.0”)

This photograph of Hires’ new $200,000 bottling and syrup plant in Denver, Colorado was taken March 7, 1948.  Hires purchased this location September 11, 1947, and opened the plant in May, 1948. 

(Figure 1948-03, Hires’ bottling and syrup plant, Denver, Colorado)

(Figure 1948-04, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 2, front cover)

The inside front cover of Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 2 listed bottlers Hires appointed during 1947.  The Seattle, Washington listing was James Sourapas, the father of Steve Sourapas.

(Figure 1948-04, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 2, inside front cover)

“Thar She Blows!” described the manufacturing of glass beverage bottles and the Applied Color Label process.  Hires didn’t start using ACL bottles until 1947 (see Figure 1947-05)and this article was a hint of additional Hires packaging changes on the horizon. 

(Figure 1948-04, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 2, page 6)

(Figure 1948-04, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 2, page 7)

Joseph W. Riley, Hires’ National Account Manager, authored this article about vending machines. 

(Figure 1948-04, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 2, page 10)

(Figure 1948-04, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 2, page 11)

Joseph Perkins, Hires’ Chief of Laboratory Department, authored this article reminding bottlers about the importance of quality control during the bottling process.

(Figure 1948-04, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 2, page 12)

This issue’s spotlight article featured Pearl L. Martin, Hires’ Home Office Stock Chief.

(Figure 1948-04, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 2, inside back cover)

A “Bulletin Board” article announced a reduction in fountain syrup prices.  The company believed Hires was “the second largest selling brand name beverage in fountains today” (Coca-Cola was #1).

(Figure 1948-04, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 2, back cover)

After hearing Hires was experimenting with 8 ounce bottles, my Dad inquired about possibly using them in Seattle.  Hires’ requirements weren’t what he was looking for:

(Figure 1948-05, Hires letter, May 20, 1948)

The company-owned bottling plant in Branchville, Maryland opened in June, 1948, the same month Hires dissolved Gelien & Company, the caramel producer purchased November 13, 1943.

The summer, 1948 edition of Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 4 includes the earliest publication of another major logo change for Hires.

(Figure 1948-06, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 4, front cover)

This issue’s employee spotlight was about Joe Riley, General Manager of Hires’ Franchise Division. 

(Figure 1948-06, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 4, inside front cover)

Charles E. Hires, Jr., president of The Charles E. Hires Company, penned these thoughts on the subject of leadership.

(Figure 1948-06, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 4, page 3)

A two-page article discussed the benefits of using palletization and forklifts, material handling equipment Hires first implemented in September, 1947 at the Philadelphia plant. 

(Figure 1948-06, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 4, page 4)

(Figure 1948-06, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 4, page 5)

The pointer sign illustrated in this article introduced a major logo change for Hires.  The new Hires logo featured a check mark and “Made with ROOTS – BARKS - HERBS” wording replacing “R-J Root Beer WITH REAL ROOT JUICES.”  Bottlers were charged "a grand total of 10¢" each for these pointer signs.  

(Figure 1948-06, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 4, page 13)

The back cover announced a contest with cash prizes for employees of Hires and Hires’ franchised bottlers.  Note the illustrated Hires signage continued to advertise Hires R-J Root Beer.

(Figure 1948-06, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 4, back cover)

In 1948 James Sourapas bought two trucks and several open beverage bodies from long-time Seattle bottler J. G. Fox who was going out of business.  He also purchased three new trucks from Smith-Gandy Ford.  Shelving was added to the beverage bodies as they were renovated by West Street Carriage in Seattle and incorporated into new delivery trucks.  Steve Sourapas' brother, Gus, guided the renovation process.  Hires wanted all of their franchisees to standardize the look of their product and delivery vehicles with black and taupe coloring, but Gus had his own ideas on what was classy, so he insisted on blue and white with red trim, and he also designed the signage for the truck.  This photograph of Gus was taken in the summer of 1948 in front of the Seattle Auditorium on Mercer Street, where the Opera House is now located.  Gus is standing by his 1942 Cabover Ford 1.5 ton truck with a beverage body.  Note the large “Hires to You!” sign on top of the bed, the Hires flags above the cab, and the full load of Hires wooden cases ready for delivery.

(Figure 1948-07, Gus Sourapas with 1942 Cabover Ford, summer 1948)

Gus also designed wooden cases for the initial float of 26 ounce Hires labeled bottles used by the Hires Bottling Company in Seattle.  The cases were manufactured by the Herr Box Company in Seattle.  Each case held a dozen 26 ounce bottles.  The deposit charged was 5¢ per bottle and 40¢ for the case, for $1.00 total.  The R-J logos on both side panels are a mixture of new – “Hires” extends outside the circle, and old – “FOR REAL-JUICES” rather than “WITH REAL ROOT JUICES.”  Using dated logos and/or combining portions of different logos happened because some bottlers weren’t concerned with whether or not cases bore current logos or marketing graphics.

(Figure 1948-08, wooden case, side panel, photo courtesy of Steve Hamilton)

(Figure 1948-08, wooden case, end panel, photo courtesy of Steve Hamilton)

(Figure 1948-09, paper sign, 22.0” x 7.0”)

(Figure 1948-09.1, paper sign, 22.0” x 7.0”)

(Figure 1948-09.2, paper sign, 22.0” x 7.0”)

(Figure 1948-09.3, paper sign, 22.0” x 7.0”)

(Figure 1948-09.4, paper sign, 22.0” x 7.0”)

(Figure 1948-09.5, paper sign, 22.0” x 7.0”)

(Figure 1948-09.6, paper sign, 22.0” x 7.0”)

(Figure 1948-09.7, paper sign, 22.0” x 7.0”)

(Figure 1948-09.8, paper sign, 22.0” x 7.0”)

(Figure 1948-09.9, paper sign, 22.0” x 7.0”)

The handle portion of this heavy, cardboard carrier was reinforced with metal brads for added strength.  Note the differing front and back advertising copy.  The carrier measures 12.0" tall, 8.0" side, and 5.0" wide.

(Figure 1948-10, cardboard six-pack carrier, front)

(Figure 1948-10, cardboard six-pack carrier, back)

(Figure 1948-10, cardboard six-pack carrier, end)

(Figure 1948-11, Canadian-made metal door pusher, 13.75” x 4.0”)

(Figure 1948-11.5, cardboard lithograph, 15.5” x 11.0”)

This aluminum, vendor's bottle carrier is embossed “Hires” on both sides.

(Figure 1948-12, aluminum, vendor's bottle carrier, 17.0” x 12.0”)

The Rainbow-Hires Bottling Company in Tulsa, Oklahoma used aluminum carriers advertising “6 2-Glass Bottles To Enjoy At Home."

(Figure 1948-13, aluminum six-pack carrier)

Moody’s Manual of Investments for 1948 provided this snapshot view of Hires:


History: Incorporated under Delaware laws July 9, 1920.  Business founded in 1876 by Charles E. Hires. 

Business: Engaged in the business of manufacturing and selling through wholesalers and chain stores Hires fountain syrup used for making Hires root beer and root beer extract which is used to flavor beverages for home consumption; and in the business of manufacturing and selling direct to bottlers who operate under a franchise granted by the company, solution which they use to make carbonated Hires root beer.  These products are distributed throughout the United States and certain foreign countries.

Company also operates 24 bottling plants in which carbonated Hires root beer is manufactured and 2 warehouses.  The output of these bottling plants is sold through wholesalers and retailers in areas surrounding each plant.

Company also manufactures and distributes locally distilled drinking water (known as “Purock Water”), carbonated water (“Hires Club Soda”), and battery water, and manufactures and otherwise generally deals in electric water coolers and syrup dispensing equipment which it leases, sells outright and on the installment plan.

Properties: Main plant at Philadelphia, Pa is leased…Also owns property containing approximately 52,000 sq. ft. in vicinity of main plant used as a bottling plant and garage.

The Charles E. Hires Co., Ltd., a subsidiary owns a plant for manufacturing “Hires” products at Montreal, Canada…

The branch bottling plants operated by company, exclusive of Philadelphia are located in Long Island City, New York; Columbus, O.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; Baltimore, Md.; Kansas City, Mo.; Somerville, Mass.; Los Angeles, Cal.; Rochester, New York; Minneapolis, Minn.; Birmingham, Ala.; Dallas and Houston, Texas; Providence, R.I.; New Orleans, La.; Burbank, Cal.; Branchville, Md.; Newark, N.J. and Milwaukee, Wis.; Albany and Brooklyn, N.Y.; Denver, Memphis, San Francisco.

Floor space of these plants varies from 12,500 sp. Ft. to 33,420 sp. Ft.  Company leases all these plants (except Somerville, Mass., Minneapolis, Kansas City, Birmingham, Brooklyn, Denver and Rochester plants, which are owned in fee).

Hires Sugar Co., also a subsidiary, owns and operates a plantation and raw sugar mill near Cardenas, Cuba, known locally as Central Dos Rosas.  The mill has a floor space of approximately 120,000 square feet and is fully equipped, and has a capacity of approximately 100,000 bags (325 lbs.) of raw sugar per season.

Subsidiaries: At Apr. 8, 1948, the following companies were wholly-owned subsidiaries:

The Charles E. Hires Co. Ltd. (Montreal, Can.) – Incorporated Nov. 4, 1919.  Manufactures and sells Hires products.

Hires Sugar Co. (Cuba) – Incorporated Feb. 21, 1920.  Engaged in production and sale of sugar.

Officers: Charles E. Hires, Jr., Pres.; J. E. Hires, E. W. David, Vice-Pres.; J. G. Magee, Sec.; J. R. Spingler, Treas.

Directors: J. R. Spingler, H. S. Hires, J. E. Hires, C. E. Hires, C. E. Hires, Jr., E. W. David, J. G. Magee, Philadelphia; E. C. Bendere, Marion, Pa.; H. G. Lloyd, Haverford, Pa.

Annual Meeting: Third Monday in January.

No. of Stockholders: Dec. 31, 1948, 1,279.

No. of Employees: Varies from about 550 during the winter months and 1,000 during the summer months.

Sales and Earnings, years to: Sept. 30 (in $):

Year     Net Sales         Net Profit

1948    8,576,090          457,135

1947    9,548,295          980,949

1946    6,019,042          625,587

1945    6,267,288          625,025

1944    6,695,182          757,301

1943    6,617,867          797,845

1942    6,415,331        1,080,602

1941    5,870,072          879,335

1940    4,941,450          862,029

1939    4,804,578          800,114

1938    4,598,165          601,011

Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 6, the fall 1948 issue, featured a cover image taken at a baseball game.  While the fans watch a player reach home plate after hitting a home run, the Hires vendor in the foreground aisle is focused on selling Hires R-J Root Beer! 

(Figure 1948-14, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 6, front cover)

A three page article announced Hires’ new 8 ounce, ACL bottle developed to attract “plus” business, i.e. “sources that do not or will not handle the 12-oz. bottle…Concessionaires, caterers, industrial feeding operators and automatic bottle vendors…cafeterias and restaurants, drive-ins, service stations, bowling alleys, street stands, parks and recreation centers…The 8-oz. bottle is a natural wherever large crowds gather for sporting events…there is no question of ‘fooling’ the public on the size of the bottle.  It looks small and we wanted it to!”    

(Figure 1948-14, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 6, page 2)

(Figure 1948-14, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 6, page 3)

(Figure 1948-14, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 6, page 6)

A teaser for Hires’ employees and bottlers was mention of a new advertising campaign scheduled for introduction at the American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages’ convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey, in November.  All that was revealed was “There’s a new catch phrase that’s a honey.” 

 (Figure 1948-14, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 6, page 7)

This article explained the origin and development of Hires’ latest fountain dispenser.

(Figure 1948-14, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 6, page 10)

(Figure 1948-14, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 6, page 11)

(Figure 1948-14, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 6, page 12)

A page of “tips” mentions picnic coolers “can be Hires-identified both as to color and trade mark,” plus there's a reminder of “what a gold mine the juvenile trade is.” 

(Figure 1948-14, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 6, page 13)

Political campaigns were well underway as election time approached (“Dewey Defeats Truman” was about to happen), so Hires included a back cover reminder that employees should keep their political opinions to themselves. 

(Figure 1948-14, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 6, back cover)

Eight ounce Hires ACL bottles were produced with both Hires R-J Root Beer With Real Root Juices and Hires check mark Roots – Barks – Herbs labeling.  Both are 8.0” tall.

(Figure 1948-15, Hires R-J Root Beer, 8 ounce ACL bottle)

(Figure 1948-15, Hires R-J crown caps)

(Figure 1948-15, Hires check mark Root Beer, 8 ounce ACL bottle)

(Figure 1948-16, embossed tin sign, 42.0” x 13.5”)

(Figure 1948-17, cardboard sign, 10.0” x 16.0”)

(Figure 1948-18, metal fountain dispenser sign, 6.0” x 8.0”)

The company-owned bottling plant in San Francisco, California opened in October, 1948.

Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 7 was distributed in November, 1948.  The cover features a Thanksgiving-themed window display.  The 12 and 26 ounce bottles in the display have Hires R-J Root Beer logos, while the cardboard cartons have check mark logos.  Note the cardboard bottle topper featuring model Sylvia MacNeill.

(Figure 1948-19, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 7, front cover)

A two page article formally introduced Hires’ new national marketing campaign.  Full color advertisements with the catch phrase “Got a minute?  Have a Hires.” were scheduled for placement in November issues of Saturday Evening Post and Look magazines, and subsequently in Life magazine.  Note the sidebar concerning the growth of bottle sales. 

(Figure 1948-19, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 7, page 13)

(Figure 1948-19, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 7, page 14)

The back cover presented a sample “thank you” letter for bottlers to consider sending their dealers.  Note the reference to "77 years," suggesting Hires was founded in 1871.

(Figure 1948-19, Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 7, back cover)

This heavy cardboard pointer sign featuring Hires' new check mark logo is the 10¢ sign referenced in Hires to You! Volume 2, Number 4 (see Figure 1948-06).  These signs were particularly effective in grocery stores, helping customers quickly find the stock of Hires.

 (Figure 1948-20, cardboard pointer sign)

Hires closed the year by publishing and distributing The Story of Hires to employees.   This 18 page booklet highlights the company’s historical development from a 1948 perspective.

Charles E. Hires, Jr. provided these introductory comments:

This chapter’s remaining images, captions, and comments are from The Story of Hires.


Take a look at this map.  It shows you how far Hires has come from the little drug store of post Civil War days.

This growth has been steady, not spectacular.  It has been planned growth, step by step.  One policy has remained constant – nothing shall interfere with the quality of the Hires product.

Perhaps some businesses have grown faster by cutting corners on quality or using habit-forming drugs.  Hires has never been in that much of a hurry!

Today, the Hires Company owns and operates busy plants in 22 major cities across the land.  This means uniform quality control of production.  In addition, there are nearly 300 carefully chosen franchise bottlers of Hires.  They, too, must maintain Hires’ uncompromising quality.



First, because millions of Americans know Hires is a delicious drink.  But how did they come to try Hires in the first place?  Why does this name – “Hires” – mean the perfect root beer to practically everybody?  The product does sell itself.  But let’s not kid ourselves.  No matter how good any product is, it can’t be sold successfully on a national basis without two important things – a vigorous sales organization and effective advertising.  Hires has had both through the years…Today, you see Hires advertising almost everywhere – in magazines, newspapers, on posters, billboards and over a national network radio show… 

Hires sells easily, quickly and in great volume.  Dealers like to handle it.  It’s good business, profitable business…The Hires sales set-up is fair to all – the bottler, the retailer and the company.  An alert field service is available at all times.  The franchise bottler is given direct help in laying out his plant, selecting machinery and maintaining quality production at lowest cost…

Hires is the oldest nationally known soft drink.  People have been drinking it for nearly 80 years.  And its popularity is stronger today than ever!  During the long lifetime of Hires, many other beverages have come and gone.  Some enjoyed sensational sales success for a short time.  But they lacked the taste and quality to stand up against the test of time…

As a company, Hires has never been interested in short-term profit.  Every decision is made on the basis of long years of operation to come…Many years ago, Charles E. Hires set down the policy that his product “shall be honestly made and honestly sold.”  That is a living policy.  It dominates every decision made by the company.  What is the greatest asset of this company?  It’s the name – “Hires” – and the confidence the public has in that name.


Truck drivers – nothing!  The men you see on this page are trained salesmen.  They know the product they sell and they know how to sell it.  Every man who wears the Hires emblem is a salesman.  He’s also a service man.  He knows how to work with dealers.  He knows how to plan advertising displays.  He knows the Hires quality story from beginning to end.  Salesmen are key men in the Hires organization.  In fact, to thousands of dealers throughout the land, they are the Hires Company.  They make the personal contact.  A lot hinges on their skill and intelligence.  These men keep your product flowing to the public.  They open up new retail outlets.  The more Hires they sell, the more money they make.  And the more money they make, the better it is for everybody in the Hires organization.


There’s a revolution going on in the beverage business.  The reason?  You guessed it – that new Hires Dispenser!...It’s that new Hires-designed faucet that’s causing most of the excitement.  Dealers are finding it amazingly accurate and efficient.  It automatically allows just the right amount of syrup to pass – not one drop too much, not one drop too little…

The new dispenser was designed and developed by Hires’ own engineers after years of experimentation and hard work.  Dealers had long had trouble with the old type of dispenser.  The “heavy hand” of a fountain clerk – putting more syrup in the glass than necessary – would cut out all prospect of a profit on the drink.  And the “light hand” of a clerk – putting too little syrup in the glass – would result in a dissatisfied customer…This modern cabinet combines beauty with better service…It sits on a counter and sells all day long.  It issues a continuous invitation to “have a glass of Hires.” 

There’s a terrific demand for this dispenser, of course…The supply of new dispensers will not catch up with the demand for a long time to come.  But more of these “salesmen” are going into service all of the time…Hires is heading for new sales records as a result of the sensational new dispenser!


(Figure 1948-21, The Story of Hires)