Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer

1950 

IT HAPPENED IN…1950

The U.S. Census reported a population of 150,697,361.

The average annual U.S. income was $1,436.

Only 11% of the work force was employed on farms.

Middle class whites continued to move out of the cities, increasing suburban land values.

Upwardly trending prices led organized labor to once again press for higher wages and improved working conditions. 

A minimum wage of 75¢ an hour went into effect.

The public was concerned with inflation, the threat of communism, and a foreign policy that didn’t bring lasting peace.  Americans were pessimistic in June when North Korea invaded South Korea and U.S. troops were sent to Korea to help repel the invasion.

President Truman authorized development of the hydrogen bomb.

The Minneapolis Lakers beat the Syracuse Nationals to win the first NBA championship.

A Chicago surgeon successfully completed the first human kidney transplant.

U.S. television ownership increased sharply, with eight 8 million sets in use.  Forty-five million households had radios.

Newly introduced products and inventions included self-opening elevators, Xerox copy machines, the Frisbee, and Minute Rice.

Charles Schulz introduced the “Peanuts” comic strip.

6,662 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.  Per capita consumption was 158 bottles.

The new company-owned bottling and syrup plant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and company-owned warehouse in Orange, Connecticut were opened in January, 1950.  Hindsight suggests Hires’ move to establish their own bottling plants across the country, cutting out many of their former independent bottlers, was a major strategic mistake that cost the company a considerable amount of market share.

Hires increased the Board of Directors from nine to 10 members on January 16, 1950. 

(Figure 1950-01, Hires to You! Volume 4, Number 2, front cover)

A “Milestone” article written by Charles E. Hires, Jr., filled the inside front cover plus pages 3, 14, and 15 of Hires to You! Volume 4, Number 2.  The article was a formal announcement of his retirement as president of Hires.  He continued as chairman of the Board of Directors, and named Edward W. David the firm’s new president.  The article announced several other personnel changes, and provides a complete list of all plant and zone locations and their respective managers. 

(Figure 1950-01, Hires to You! Volume 4, Number 2, inside front cover)

(Figure 1950-01, Hires to You! Volume 4, Number 2, page 3)

(Figure 1950-01, Hires to You! Volume 4, Number 2, page 14)

(Figure 1950-01, Hires to You! Volume 4, Number 2, page 15)

Bottlers were the target audience for an article by David L. Sloan, Chief of Hires’ Laboratory Control Department.  Bottling was significantly more complicated than most people realize.

(Figure 1950-01, Hires to You! Volume 4, Number 2, page 12)

(Figure 1950-01, Hires to You! Volume 4, Number 2, page 13)

An article by John R. Minten, Hires’ Advertising Manager, provided background information and an update on Hires’ highly successful sales promotion tied to the national upswing in the popularity of square dancing.  Response to a full page advertisement in Look magazine overwhelmed Hires, prompting them to outsource responses to the R. L. Polk Company, a firm that specialized in coupon returns. 

(Figure 1950-01, Hires to You! Volume 4, Number 2, page 4)

(Figure 1950-01, Hires to You! Volume 4, Number 2, page 5)

The back cover article previewed the game of horseshoes image to be included in Hires’ springtime advertisements scheduled for publication in Life and Look during March, 1950.  There’s also a list of eight bottlers who recently took on Hires franchises.

(Figure 1950-01, Hires to You! Volume 4, Number 2, back cover)

Here’s the full-page square dance advertisement than ran in Look magazine.  No labels or bottle caps were required to get a booklet, just a completed coupon and 10¢ in coin (“no stamps!”).

(Figure 1950-02, Look)

The 16 page Hires Throws a Square Dance booklet briefly discusses square dance music, and then explains and illustrates dance fundamentals and dances such as “Dive for the Oyster,” “Take a Little Peek,” “Pop! Goes the Weasel,” and the “Virginia Reel.”  The booklet closes with a “Refreshments” section suggesting several popular sandwiches and, of course, the need to “have plenty of delicious Hires on hand to ‘wet the whistles’ of the participants.”  The booklet measures 7.875" x 4.75".

(Figure 1950-03, Hires Throws a Square Dance booklet, back and front covers)

Copies of the 1948 edition of The Story of Hires were distributed to Sales Division personnel in early 1950, along with this two page Preface indicating a "completely revised and up-to-date version" of the booklet wouldn't be produced until 1951.  

(Figure 1950-03.5, Preface distributed with copies of The Story of Hires)

The company-owned warehouse in St. Louis, Missouri was closed and replaced by a new bottling plant in March, 1950. 

In conjunction with the March, 1950 Life and Look advertisements, Hires ran this full page advertisement in The American Bottler magazine.  The horseshoes image was repeated and the copy touts spending $30 million on advertising during Hires’ “80 years” in business.  Eighty years dates Hires' founding as 1870.

(Figure 1950-04, The American Bottler, March, 1950)

Hires placed a series of similarly formatted, 13.0” x 5.25” “Got a Minute? Have a Hires!” advertisements in Life magazine during 1950.  The images included playing horseshoes, an “invitation to refresh” card, a fishing bobber, table tennis, reading a book while smoking a pipe, skiing, and the examples that follow.

(Figure 1950-05, Life, April 30, 1950)

(Figure 1950-06, Life, May 8, 1950)

(Figure 1950-07, Life)

(Figure 1950-08, Life)

(Figure 1950-09, Life)

(Figure 1950-10, Life)

To remind bottlers the “Got a Minute? Have a Hires!” series was running in Life magazine, some of the same images were used for trade journal advertisements. 

(Figure 1950-11, The American Bottler, May 1950)

New Jersey’s Camden County Council distributed an aluminum token as a souvenir of the Boy Scouts of America National Jamboree held at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania from June 27 until July 6, 1950.  This was the first national Boy Scouts jamboree held following World War II.

(Figure 1950-12, Boy Scouts of America token, front and back)

This metal bottle opener was a giveaway item produced for Virgil’s, an Oklahoma City, Oklahoma store selling mixers, “Squeeze” brand sodas, and Hires Root Beer. 

(Figure 1950-13, metal bottle opener)

For the fiscal year ending September 30, 1950, Hires reported net sales of $7,581,748 and a $436,123 net profit. 

The photographs of these clear glass, lighted signs were taken with a blue background.

(Figure 1950-14, clear glass, lighted sign with an aluminum base, 12.0” x 17.0”)

The Hires check mark logo on this slightly smaller sign differs from the previous example. 

(Figure 1950-15, clear glass, lighted sign with aluminum base, 10.0” x 13.0”)

The S & S Company of Lima, Ohio manufactured this Quikold Master 1440 WD-2 cooler in 1950.  It weighs 280 pounds, and held 144 bottles for vending.  It measures 34.0" high, 44.5" wide, and 25.625" deep.  The stainless steel lids slide horizontally for users to access the bottles.  The Hires R-J Root Beer logos on the front and end panels are embossed. 

(Figure 1950-16, Quikold Master 1440 WD-2 cooler)

The Hires Bottling Company of Columbus, Ohio utilized clear siphon bottles with red ACLs for carbonated water. 

(Figure 1950-17, clear, round-based siphon bottle)

Morris Paper Mills of Chicago, Illinois placed this eye-catching advertisement in late 1950, introducing their newly-designed cardboard, six-pack carriers to the soft drink industry.     

(Figure 1950-18, The American Bottler)