Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



Although Chinese Communist troops had entered the Korean War and American troop casualties passed the 100,000 mark, a third world war was averted when the U.S. decided to abide by the United Nations decision not to attack Chinese bases.  In April President Truman relieved General Douglas MacArthur of his Far East commands.

The employment of women in American industry reached a record high.  Employment, wages, and prices were all up.

The 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, implementing a two term limit for Presidents.  This change was a reaction to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four terms in office.

The costliest flood in U.S. history occurred in July when the Mississippi River and its tributaries flooded over one million acres in Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Illinois. 

A race riot occurred in Cicero, Illinois when 4,000 whites attacked an apartment building housing a single black family.

The world’s largest natural gas pipeline opened between Brownsville, Texas and New York City.

Transcontinental direct dial telephone service was introduced.

Hank Ketcham’s “Dennis the Menace” comic strip made a syndicated debut in newspapers.

Network television show premieres included “I Love Lucy,” “The Roy Rogers Show,” “Superman,” “Mr. Wizard,” and the “Search For Tomorrow” soap opera.  A television version of the “Amos ‘N’ Andy” radio show also premiered, the first network series with an all Black cast.

Mickey Mantle hit his first major league homerun for the New York Yankees.

Topps Chewing Gum Company introduced packets of baseball cards containing gum.

Newly introduced products and inventions included commercial transistors, Univac computers, random access memory, and Liquid Paper typing correction fluid.

The federal wage-price freeze created serious challenges for the soft drink industry.

West Virginia enacted a 1¢ tax on 16 ounce or smaller soft drinks, plus 1¢ in sales tax.

6,383 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.  Per capita consumption was 162.7 bottles.

Hires continued the push to attract and appoint additional franchise bottlers by placing advertisements in industry trade magazines.  Hires had licensed sixty new bottlers during calendar year 1950.

(Figure 1951-01, The American Bottler, January 1951)

With soft drink sales slow during the winter months, the skater on the cover of Hires to You! Volume 5, Number 1, February, 1951 was designed to ensure bottlers “Don’t Overlook Winter Sports Arenas.” 

(Figure 1951-02, Hires to You! Volume 5, Number 1, February 1951, front cover)

Following North Korea’s invasion of South Korea in June, 1950, U. S. involvement evolved from a “police action” to the “Korean War.”  U.S. mobilization for war prompted a Hires to You! Volume 5, Number 1 article authored by E. W. David.  In addition to his thoughts on preparation for the Korean War, he provided some interesting into the challenges Hires and the soft drink industry faced during World War II.


by E. W. David, President, The Charles E. Hires Co.

The experience of the last war – a look at today’s situation – enable us to face the future with confidence.

Serious times are ahead.  Our Government predicts austerity.  I have no crystal ball with which to forecast future events or the impact they may have on the carbonated beverage industry.  We are already faced with restrictions of scarce raw materials, particularly aluminum, nickel, steel, copper, tin, zinc, cobalt, rubber and rayon yarns.  We have limitations on credit, designed to decrease consumer purchasing and aid in checking inflationary tendencies.  We have substantially increased taxes on normal profits, as well as still higher excess profits taxes intended to syphon off the profits of war and aid in balancing the budget on a pay-as-you-go basis.  It will not be an easy road to travel.

Perhaps, however, the experience of the last war may throw some light on the problems to be faced in this partial mobilization, and the part that the soft drink industry may play in it.  Bear in mind that soft drinks are food, so defined by the Department of Agriculture.  During the last war the Army considered them so important to the war effort that soft drinks were included in a small group of half a dozen articles for which the Army insisted on preferential treatment over civilian supply requirements under the following ruling: “Domestic exchanges will not be entitled to any preferential treatment over civilian enterprises except for those items deemed essential to soldier morale.”

Soft drinks are already in demand in the various camps and Navy stores.  Bottlers who have such installations within the trade territory have an opportunity to share in this additional business by contacting the Procurement Officer.  Business with armed forces is worth going after.  During the last war these orders were accompanied by the necessary priorities to insure the manufacturer’s being able to get scarce materials for the order.  In the case of sugar which was rationed, additional quotas were provided.

You will recall some of the other materials that were difficult to obtain – lumber and fibreboard for boxes, glass for bottles because of the shortage of soda ash, CO2 gas which was needed by the Navy for fire prevention, caramel and other flavoring ingredients.  No tin was available for block tin pipes for dispensers.  Plastic had to be substituted for carbonated water lines.  Cork was scarce because it had to be imported from Spain, Portugal, and North Africa, and shipping space was difficult to obtain.

Steel was in such short supply that the crown manufacturers were only allowed to use reject steel plates for bottle caps, and no tin was available to plate the steel.  Bottle caps were so scarce that plants were set up to recondition used crowns by immersing them in a hot caustic bath which sterilized them and removed all the cork and lacquer decoration.  Then they were reformed by a press, dipped in a lacquer bath to prevent rusting, and finally a new cork disk was inserted.  Needless to say, these crowns cost much more than new ones, nor did they comply with labeling regulations requiring the name and address of the manufacturer.  The food and drug authorities in the various states understood the situation, however, and waived the labeling requirements.  Gasoline and rubber shortages made it necessary to restrict mileage and deliveries.

The Office of Price Administration, O.P.A., handled rationing and price controls. The War Production Board, W.P.B., and War Food Administration, W.F.A., were responsible for allocations.  Transportation was regulated by the Office of Defense Transportation, O.D.T.  Even labor was allocated by the War Manpower Commission.  All of these regulations and controls of industry were made necessary by the exigencies of World War II.  Let us hope that the present beginnings of mobilization will not lead to the necessity for such all-out war measures again.

Looking at the situation today, the soft drink industry is in a much better position than it was at the beginning of the last emergency.  Its productive capacity has been greatly increased since the war.  In fact, it has expanded to such an extent that keen competition has resulted in a tendency to postpone increases in selling prices commensurate with rising costs of materials and labor.  This price-profit problem, however, is being rapidly corrected.  It must be in the industry is to have the resources necessary to take care of the demands of the armed forces and civilian requirements as well.

Suppliers of the soft drink industry too, have stepped up their productive capacities, which means that needed materials should be more plentiful than before.  Many of the shortages during the last war were caused by the submarine menace and inability to import.  At one time, that affected even the importation of sugar from Cuba.  Perhaps the main cause for the sugar shortage, however, was the diversion of more than nine hundred thousand tons of sugar for the production of alcohol to be used in the synthetic rubber program.  It is to be hoped that this will not occur again.  Sugar supplies today appear to be sufficient for all food requirements.

No one can predict future events, but the record of the soft drink industry in the last war was one to be proud of, and I am sure it will give a good account of itself in this new national emergency.  For that reason, we here at the HIRES Company face the future, and problems that may arise, with confidence that all segments of the industry will work together for the common good.

Hires' frequent participation in industry trade shows was reported to Hires to You! readers via text and images such as this eye-catching example.  No doubt "Miss Hires Keg" attracted numerous attendees to the Hires booth at the Parks, Pools and Beaches Show in Chicago!

(Figure 1951-02, Hires to You! Volume 5, Number 1, February 1951, page 11)

This issue of Hires to You! also included an article by C. M. Lamason, Hires’ Sales Manager, Franchise Division and Territories, emphasizing the importance of franchise operations: “Franchise bottlers of name brands find a ready-made market, requiring only good service, effective distribution and intelligent cost handling to show a quick and continuing return.”

(Figure 1951-02, Hires to You! Volume 5, Number 1, February 1951, page 12)

This article about department store sales provided insight concerning the Christmas season.

(Figure 1951-02, Hires to You! Volume 5, Number 1, February 1951, page 13)

Sadly, this issue of Hires to You! also carried an announcement of the death of J. Edgar Hires on January 23, 1951. 

(Figure 1951-02, Hires to You! Volume 5, Number 1, February 1951, inside back cover)

Hires’ heavy emphasis on increasing their base of franchise bottlers continued with full page trade magazine advertisements.

(Figure 1951-03, The American Bottler, March 1951)

(Figure 1951-04, The American Bottler, April 1951)

Hires placed a black-and-white version of this advertisement in the June, 1951 edition of The American Bottler.

(Figure 1951-05, Saturday Evening Post, April 28, 1951, Look, June 5, 1951, also in Life during the same time frame)

A black-and-white version of this advertisement ran in The American Bottler in July, 1951.

(Figure 1951-06, Saturday Evening Post, June 30, 1951, Life, July 23, 1951, also in Look during the same period)

Hires published Your Guide to Successful Selling in 1951.  The photos and text in this booklet presented an 11 step approach designed to guide route salesmen thru the process of making dealer sales calls.  Tips included:

Make certain that you do not interrupt the retailer if he is busy with another salesman or customer.  Remember, you and HIRES are always competing for the retailer’s attention against not only other beverages, but with all products in his place of business….Tell him of the advantages of giving HIRES more shelf-space and building a floor and window display…Get his permission to put up your advertising at a prominent spot in his store.  Tell him that you have an outside metal sign to place on the front of his store…Ask for the order.  Always try to sell him more than you did the last trip…Thank the dealer and tell him when you’ll be back.  Always leave with “HIRES to You!”

(Figure 1951-07, Your Guide to Successful Selling, 4.0” x 5.0”, front cover)

Hires’ Detroit, Michigan plant developed a target marketing campaign for schools.

(Figure 1951-08, special events card, 3.25” x 5.5”, front)

(Figure 1951-08, special events card, 3.25” x 5.5”, back)

The Hires check mark logo was printed on both sides and end panels of this wooden case produced for use by a Kenton, Ohio bottler.  The case held two dozen 12 ounce bottles. 

(Figure 1951-09, wooden case)

(Figure 1951-10, metal sign and door pusher, 6.0” x 8.0”)

These cloth patches were sewn the backs of shirts and jackets.

(Figure 1951-11, cloth back patch, 7.5” diameter)

These signs were designed for drive-in restaurants.  The backs of the signs had large numerals printed on them to help car hops identify which customer was signaling for service assistance. 

(Figure 1951-12, cardboard drive-in restaurant sign, 5.25” x 6.5”)

(Figure 1951-13, porcelain sign, 6.5” x 10.5”)

This cast metal, scale model railroad train layout refreshment stand was an “Authenticast” product produced by Comet Metal Products in the Richmond Hill district of Queens in New York City.  Note the Hires barrel on the counter, and check mark logo signs.  One end reads “ICE COLD SODA ALL FLAVORS,” while the other end states ‘ROOT BEER ORANGE-ADE ALL SOFT DRINKS.”

(Figure 1951-14, model railroad refreshment stand, 4.5” x 2.25” x 3.0”)

For the fiscal year ending September 30, 1951, Hires reported net sales of $8,066,612 and a net profit of $404,004.

The pictured one ton delivery truck was assigned to Hires��� Los Angeles, California plant. 

(Figure 1951-15, The American Bottler, October 1951)

The company-owned warehouse in Orange, Connecticut was closed and replaced by a new bottling plant in November, 1951.

At year-end 1951 Hires was still actively seeking additional franchisees, even though this advertisement’s copy indicates only “A few franchises remain to be had.” 

(Figure 1951-16, The American Bottler, December 1951)