Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer

1955 

IT HAPPENED IN…1955

U.S. business income rose 33%, while farm income declined another 5.5%. 

The federal minimum wage increased to $1.00 per hour. 

Americans enjoyed home remodeling, planning dream homes, and buying new cars and appliances, especially color television sets.

Congress funded 45,000 new public housing units that were to be built by July 31, 1956.

Church construction reached its highest rate in history.

Educators reported a shortage of 250,000 classrooms and 141,300 teachers.

Two days after President Eisenhower’s heart attack, the New York Stock Exchange lost $14 billion, the largest single day loss in history.

The U.S. had stockpiled 4000 atomic bombs while the USSR had approximately 1000.

Teen idol James Dean died at age 24 when his Porsche Spider careened off the road.

Christmas weekend’s 609 traffic fatalities set a new record.

A Davy Crockett fad was started by a movie produced by Walt Disney. 

Over one billion comic books sold for $100 million – four times the combined book budget of all U.S. libraries.

Rock ’n roll’s popularity skyrocketed, in spite of naysayers who deemed it immoral because of its monotonous, primitive beat.

Disneyland opened July 18, 1955.

Newly introduced soft drinks included Quiky, Sprig, Uptown, and Get Up.

5,469 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.  Per capita consumption was 184.2 bottles.

The company-owned bottling and syrup plant in New Orleans, Louisiana was closed in January, 1955.

Edward W. David, a Hires employee since 1920 and president since 1950, retired and was succeeded by Peter W. Hires, Fountain Syrup and Fixture Sales Manager for Hires.  Time magazine published this announcement January 31, 1955:

PERSONNEL - Changes of the Week

Peter Wolf Hires, 32, was named president of Philadelphia’s Charles E. Hires Co. (root beer), succeeding E. W. David, who is retiring.  Peter, whose father remains board chairman, is the grandson of Pharmacist Charles E. Hires Sr…Young Peter Hires left Haverford College before graduation to drive a company truck, became a salesman, and rose to be general merchandising manager.  He expects to boost 1954 sales of nearly $10 million by 20% by being “a lot more aggressive.” 

(Figure 1955-01, Peter Wolf Hires, Time, January 31, 1955)

C. Edgar Hires was appointed Public Relations Director for The Charles E. Hires Company.

Figure 1955-02, C. Edgar Hires, Greater Philadelphia Magazine)

Continuing to expand Hires’ market reach, trade magazine advertisements informed store operators that Life, Look, and Saturday Evening Post were sources for the placement of “high powered merchandising.” 

(Figure 1955-03, Chain Store Age, April, 1955)

Model 45MPX Hires Multiplex Kegs were made of quarter-sawn white oak with solid stainless steel hoops, and held 45 gallons of Hires Root Beer.  The single faucet was patented by the Multiplex Faucet Company of St. Louis, Missouri.  An identical Hires sign was also attached to the opposite side. 

(Figure 1955-04, Model 45MPX Hires Multiplex Keg, 31.0” tall, 21.0” diameter)

In addition to bottles, Hires Root Beer became available in flat top, steel cans during 1955.

(Figure 1955-05, flat top, steel can)

The May, 1955 issue of Fountain & Fast Food magazine carried this announcement concerning expansion of the Hires Snack Bar line:

The Charles E. Hires Co. will introduce two new members of their Snack Bar line.  The “Super-12,” a 12-foot model, incorporates the high capacity Hires keg, counter accommodations for one or two grills or other service equipment, a built-in refrigerator and a new attractive revolving sign.  The Campus Special Snackette is a small, compact 4-foot 6” bar featuring Hires keg and a hot dog grill.  Light in weight, it can be easily moved from place to place.  Water storage facilities enable the unit to operate with 110 volt electrical outlet.  Charles E. Hires Co., Dept F&FF 5174, 206 So. 24th St., Philadelphia 3, Pa.

The inset “SPECIAL!” offer pictured Geronimo and announced the availability of set of collectible, full-color, trading cards featuring famous American Indian Chiefs, free with cartons of Hires Root Beer.

(Figure 1955-06, Life, May 2, 1955, Saturday Evening Post, May 7, 1955)

The National Bottlers’ Gazette ran a full page article entitled “Hires Uses Fork Lift Trucks To Enlarge Storage Space” in the June, 1955 issue.  Rather than building a new warehouse, Hires opted to use fork lift trucks and pallets and “storage capacity was practically doubled…According to Mr. (C. Edgar) Hires, the company has realized a 50 percent saving in truck loading and unloading costs which may add up to a saving of about two cents a case…As a result…Hires converted their route trucks so that they could carry the pallet load of 50 cases in the truck in approximately the same time it would normally take one man to place one case in the old style route truck.”

(Figure 1955-07, deleted)

“Famous American Indian Chief” cardboard bottle toppers were attached to cartons of Hires Root Beer and free with the purchase of six-packs.  Recipients were instructed to “Cut along line indicated for use in scrapbook or cut out picture of chief for trading card.”  There were six different cards in the set. 

(Figure 1955-08, Chief Geronimo bottle topper, 7.0” x 6.5”)

(Figure 1955-08, Chief Joseph bottle topper, 7.0” x 6.5”)

(Figure 1955-08, Chief Osceola bottle topper, 7.0” x 6.5”)

(Figure 1955-08, Chief Pontiac bottle topper, 7.0” x 6.5”)

(Figure 1955-08, Chief Quanah Parker bottle topper, 7.0” x 6.5”)

(Figure 1955-08, Chief Sitting Bull bottle topper, 7.0” x 6.5”)

Hires also distributed 6.75" x 6.0" cardboard bottle toppers featuring “Famous Flag of American History” trading cards.  There were six different cards in the set.

(Figure 1955-09, “The Alamo Flag” bottle topper)

(Figure 1955-10, “Cambridge or Grand Union Flag” bottle topper)

(Figure 1955-11, “The Moultrie Flag” bottle topper)

(Figure 1955-12, “The Fremont Flag” bottle topper)

(Figure 1955-13, “Massachusetts Navy Flag” bottle topper)

(Figure 1955-14, “Oliver H. Perry Flag” bottle topper)

(Figure 1955-15, Life, June 20, 1955)

The company-owned bottling plant in Albany, New York was closed in June, 1955.

In addition to Life, Look, and Saturday Evening Post, Collier’s magazine was also listed in this trade magazine advertisement.

(Figure 1955-16, The American Bottler, August, 1955)

Note the addition of a Hires six-pack sitting on the players’ bench.

(Figure 1955-17, Life, August 24, 1955)

The drive-in restaurant signs were updated again, with “SO GOOD WITH FOOD” wording added, a throwback to Hires’ 1939 advertising slogan.

(Figure 1955-18, cardboard drive-in restaurant sign, 5.25” x 6.5”)

The Sourapas family-owned Hires Bottling Company in Seattle, Washington distributed pencils advertising Hires Root Beer, Bireley’s, and Squirt, their licensed franchises.

(Figure 1955-19, pencil)

For the fiscal year ending September 30, 1955, Hires reported net sales of $10,111,045 and a $395,976 net profit. 

(Figure 1955-20, heavy plastic sign, 24.0” diameter)

The back of this hard plastic, pinback button is stamped “Pin-up - Posterloid Corp. - New York 10, New York. 

(Figure 1955-21, pinback button, 4.0” x 4.0”)

Hires bottlers used a wide variety of crown caps.

(Figure 1955-22, crown caps)

Resurrecting the concept of attracting new customers by giving away free samples, Hires distributed tin tokens good for a free bottle of Hires Root Beer, with a bottle deposit required. 

(Figure 1955-23, tin token, front and back, 1.5” diameter)

(Figure 1955-24, metal door pusher, 32.75” x 2.5”)

(Figure 1955-25, tin sign, 41.5�� x 13.5”)

(Figure 1955-26, embossed tin sign with blackboard, 29.5” x 15.5”)

The Press Sign Company of St. Louis, Missouri manufactured this sign designated item BN-9.  The design is an updated version of the sign illustrated as Figure 1952-07.

(Figure 1955-27, embossed metal sign, 23.5” diameter)

The General Electric Company manufactured this electric wall clock.  The face design is similar to the previously illustrated Hires sign.

(Figure 1955-28, electric wall clock, 7.0” diameter, 3.0” deep)

Weather has taken its toll on this metal thermometer.

(Figure 1955-29, metal thermometer, 27.0” x 8.25”)

These four 12.0" x 18.0" signs continue the “OLDTIME” theme initiated in 1953.

(Figure 1955-30, cardboard sign)

(Figure 1955-31, cardboard sign, 12.0" x 18.0")

(Figure 1955-32, cardboard sign)

(Figure 1955-33, cardboard sign)

(Figure 1955-33.5, cardboard sign, 22.0" x 24.0")

The advertising copy on cans was also revised to promote the "OLDTIME" theme.  This 12 ounce, steel "MiraCan" was manufactured for Hires by the American Can Company.

 

(Figure 1955-33.8, flat top can)

This vending machine was manufactured by the Ideal Dispenser Company in Bloomington, Illinois.  The front panel is debossed with the Hires Since 1876 logo.  Fifty bottles were hung vertically on rails and continuously cooled while soaking in water refrigerated by a built-in electric compressor.  To purchase a drink, customers deposited a coin into the slot on the front of the coin mechanism on the left side of the machine.  The coin released an internal catch allowing the customer to lift the stainless steel lid and slide (hence the name) the chosen drink to an opening and extract the bottle.  An opener was conveniently located on the front for removing crown caps that fell into the catcher.  This example also charged a 2¢ deposit, dropping three pennies into the change tray for the customer.  The machine weighs 200 pounds.  It measures 42.0" tall, 37.5" wide, and 19.5" deep.  Store operators positioned slider machines where they could be watched, otherwise someone could open the stainless steel lid, easily remove crown caps, and drink the contents via a straw without paying.

(Figure 1955-34, Ideal 55 Slider vending machine)

Publication of Hires to You! Volume 9, Number 4, the October, 1955 issue, was timed to coincide with the annual American Bottlers of Carbonated Beverages’ convention.  The attractive majorette gracing the cover appears to be leading the Hires bottle.

(Figure 1955-35, Hires to You! Volume 9, Number 4, October, 1955, front cover)

Coverage of individual Hires bottlers promotional sales activities included a billboard placed by the Hires Bottling Company of Sacramento, California,...

...a large sign erected by the Hires Bottling Company of Seattle, Washington,... 

…and a prominent supermarket display announcing the introduction of canned Hires Root Beer in Cleveland, Ohio. 

(Figure 1955-35, Hires to You! Volume 9, Number 4, October, 1955, page 12)

Peter W. Hires, the president of Hires, was pictured receiving the National Sanitation Foundation Testing Laboratory’s approval for Hires’ Snack Bar.  Also shown is a huge Hires billboard strategically positioned at the entrance to the New Jersey Expressway, a location 85,000 drivers passed each day, for a total of over 31 million views per year. 

(Figure 1955-35, Hires to You! Volume 9, Number 4, October, 1955, inside back cover)

This full-page trade magazine advertisement ran following the Hires Snack Bar’s approval awarded by the National Sanitation Foundation.

(Figure 1955-36, trade magazine advertisement)

(Figure 1955-37, The American Soft Drink Journal, November, 1955)

The company-owned bottling plant in Providence, Rhode Island was closed in November, 1955.

(Figure 1955-38, The American Soft Drink Journal, November, 1955)

A new company-owned bottling plant was opened in Houston, Texas in December, 1955.

This cardboard Santa Claus bottle hanger said “MERRY XMAS” and when the cardboard wheel attached to the back was rotated, his eyes moved and he said “HI-YA.” 

(Figure 1955-39, cardboard Santa Claus bottle hanger, 8.0” x 4.0”)

These three unused, die-cut, cardboard hangers fit together like a jigsaw puzzle to produce a display picturing Santa and his sleigh loaded with toys pulled by eight reindeer.  Interestingly, Rudolph wasn’t included and Dasher’s nose is red instead.  Obtaining each of the three hangers required the purchase of a carton containing six 12 ounce bottles of Hires Root Beer.

(Figure 1955-40, three die-cut, cardboard hangers, Santa and his sleigh)

The year closed with a full page advertisement picturing a Chevrolet delivery truck used by the company-owned Hires plant in Burbank, California. 

(Figure 1955-41, The American Bottler, December, 1955)