Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



An economic recession affected the entire U.S., but newly enacted anti-recession legislation had improved the situation by early fall.

School desegregation was a continuing critical issue.  The governor of Arkansas closed four high schools in Little Rock rather than forcing them to integrate.

“Explorer 1,” the first successful American satellite, was launched into orbit.

Over 45 million U.S. households had television sets.  Network television show premieres included “The Ann Southern Show,” “Bat Masterson,” and “Peter Gunn.”

Pizza Hut was founded in Wichita, Kansas.

Newly introduced products and inventions included integrated circuits, lasers, video games, and the Hula Hoop.

4,745 soft drink bottling plants were in operation in the U.S.

Dualite Products, Inc., a sign manufacturing company in Cincinnati, Ohio, produced this hard plastic, electric wall clock for Hires. 

(Figure 1958-01, hard plastic, electric wall clock, 27.0” x 13.0”)

This advertisement pictured an ACL bottle without the new Hires in a trapezoid neck logo.

(Figure 1958-02, The American Soft Drink Journal 1958 Blue Book Edition)

A wooden frame supported this very large, rectangular sign manufactured by the Press Sign Company, 2901 Elliot Avenue, St. Louis 7, Missouri. 

(Figure 1958-03, metal sign, 46.0” x 82.0”)

(Figure 1958-04, 3-D metal sign, 34.0” diameter)

(Figure 1958-05, hard plastic, electric sign, 15.25” long, 5.0” high, 3.5” deep)

(Figure 1958-06, tin thermometer, 27.0” x 8.0”)

(Figure 1958-07, The American Soft Drink Journal, May 1958, page 65)

One of the “spectacular, sales-stimulating promotional events” Edward Stern alluded to in the previous advertisement was Hires’ baseball promotion.  This trade magazine advertisement provided bottlers with additional details about television, radio, and newspaper advertising plans.  Note the Hires baseball posters on the wall behind the men posing in the photograph.  

(Figure 1958-08, The American Soft Drink Journal, July, 1958)

Children were the focus of Hires’ baseball-themed marketing campaign, especially boys who loved baseball.  For only 10¢ and two Hires crown caps one could become a card-carrying member of the “Hires Baseball Club,” receive a copy of a 20 page book on How to Play Baseball, and possibly win one of the 1,200 prizes offered in a Hires-Wilson baseball contest.

(Figure 1958-09, How To Play Baseball booklet, front cover)

Probably the biggest appeal to targeted customers were the cardboard baseball cards given away with the purchase of six-pack cartons of Hires Root Beer. 

(Figure 1958-10, Dave Sisler baseball card, front)

(Figure 1958-10, Dave Sisler baseball card, back)

A series of eight test baseball cards were produced prior to distribution of the production set of 66 different cards.  Here are examples of the test and production cards featuring San Francisco Giants and Baseball Hall of Fame center fielder Willie Mays.

(Figure 1958-11, Willie Mays test baseball card, front)

(Figure 1958-11, Willie Mays test baseball card, back)

(Figure 1958-12, Willie Mays production baseball card, front)

(Figure 1958-12, Willie Mays production baseball card, back)

ROOT FOR THE HOME TEAM & WIN WITH HIRES is printed in red on this wooden, baseball bat-shaped ballpoint pen.  The reverse side has an illustration of a baseball bat.

(Figure 1958-13, wooden, baseball bat-shaped ballpoint pen)

Several celluloid, pinback buttons were produced for Hires' baseball-themed campaign.  The "Ask Me How To Join The Hires Baseball Club." and "Get on the Ball with Hires" buttons are 3.0" in diameter.  The "Hires ON THE BALL" button is just over 2.0" in diameter and was manufactured by the Philadelphia Badge Company.


(Figure 1958-14, celluloid, pinback buttons)

One gallon tins of Hires Root Beer Finished Syrup were updated with blue stripes.

(Figure 1958-15, one gallon Hires Root Beer Finished Syrup tin)

Paper soda jerk caps were also updated with blue stripes.  This example was manufactured by the Servis Cap Company in Philadelphia, PA. 

(Figure 1958-15.5, paper soda jerk cap, 11.0" x 3.5")

The company-owned bottling and syrup plant in Los Angeles, California was closed in July, 1958.

(Figure 1958-16, cardboard sign, 14.0” x 16.5”)

(Figure 1958-16.5, cardboard bottle topper, 5.0” x 6.0”)

(Figure 1958-17, plastic pocket protector for pens and pencils, 3.25” x 6.0”)

This 3.375" x 5.0" sewing needle packet was a gift presented to bottlers Hires hoped to license.  The packet contains 40 needles and a threader.

(Figure 1958-18, cardboard sewing needle packet, front)

(Figure 1958-18, cardboard sewing needle packet, inside)

(Figure 1958-18, cardboard sewing needle packet, back)

This cloth patch was also produced as a 9.0” x 6.0” back patch:

(Figure 1958-19, cloth uniform patch, 3.5” across)

(Figure 1958-20, cloth uniform patch, 3.5” across)

(Figure 1958-21, embossed tin sign with chalkboard, 29.5” x 15.5”)

Peter W. Hires, president of Hires, posed with a Little League baseball team for this Western Union telegram advertisement.  Although the team members’ uniforms aren’t emblazoned with Hires lettering, Hires didn’t totally miss an advertising opportunity - note the two six-pack cartons and wooden case of Hires bottles in the foreground, and the boys are drinking Hires Root Beer.

(Figure 1958-22, magazine advertisement)

The Crown Cork & Seal Company’s magazine, Crown, published this “Bottling Industry Feature” profile in 1958:

Peter vZ. Hires

On January 17, 1955 the Charles E. Hires Co., the oldest and largest producer of root beer in the world, named a new president – Peter vZ. Hires, then 32 and the youngest top executive in the soft drink industry.

The third generation of the Hires family to head the firm founded by his grandfather 82 years ago, Peter has already embarked on an aggressive advertising program, slanted to the younger set, to keep the Hires name in prominence and to keep sales at their annual $10 million level.

The Hires Company was among the first to install in 1936 the Crown Cork & Seal Co. Cem filling and bottling system.  Under its young president it continues a philosophy of modern production methods…Most of the crowns used in Hires plants and their fountain service syrup cans are produced by Crown Cork & Seal Co.

Hires also bottles Purock distilled water and manufactures electric water coolers and refreshment dispensing equipment.  Last year the company introduced three new flavors – ginger ale, orange and grape – now being marketed in certain of its distribution areas.

The 35-year-old executive who heads this firm centers his interests in his business, his family and home in the rolling hills of Chester County, Pa., and certain civic endeavors such as the United Fund and Americans for the Competitive Enterprise System.  He literally grew up in the company, starting as a trucker’s helper in his teens, later working as a driver-salesman and climbing up the ladder through sales and advertising.  He became General Merchandising Manager in 1952.  Educated at the University of North Carolina and Haverford College, he served three years as a Merchant Marine seaman during WWII…

With wife Diana, nicknamed “Dede,” and 18-month-old son, Peter, Jr., Hires relaxes in…(their) home near historic Valley Forge Park…surrounded by a variety of handsome shrubs and shade trees, has been occupied by family since 1945.  Hires’ 29-acre property on hillside overlooking gentleman farming country, has three small orchards which provide fruit for home use and gifts to friends…Root beer mugs, well-known companion of Hires dispensing equipment for more than 60 years, are major tokens of company’s history in Hires’ home…collection is most complete in existence.

Tennis, on cork-surfaced court 50 yards from house, lures Peter regularly.  He played in school and local tournaments; attends major tournaments at Forest Hills and nearby Merion and Haverford.  During spring he likes to escape on fishing trips in Maine and New Hampshire.  Skating and a firearms collection are his other hobbies.

The company-owned bottling and syrup plant in Newark, New Jersey and company-owned bottling plant in St. Louis, Missouri were closed in September, 1958.

For the fiscal year ending September 30, 1958, Hires reported net sales of $9,443,275 and produced a $360,953 net profit.

Continuing to introduce “spectacular, sales-stimulating promotional events,” Hires partnered with RCA Victor to produce a “Hires presents RCA Victor’s Sound Spectaculars for ‘59” record album sold via mail for “$1.00 in cash with coupon from bottle or carton of HIRES.”  A trade magazine advertisement placed on facing pages announced the offer. 

(Figure 1958-23, The American Soft Drink Journal, September, 1958, page 16)

(Figure 1958-23, The American Soft Drink Journal, September, 1958, page 17)

Here’s another large trade magazine advertisement that ran on facing pages.

(Figure 1958-24, The American Soft Drink Journal, November, 1958, page 102)

(Figure 1958-24, The American Soft Drink Journal, November, 1958, page 103)

(Figure 1958-25, Telechron electric wall clock)

The company-owned bottling plant in Brooklyn, New York was closed in November, 1958.

Sherbrooke Beverages Ltd. in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada was awarded this certificate mounted on a wooden plaque for their quality production of Hires Root Beer during 1958.  Age and UV rays have caused the signatures of Peter Hires and David Sloan to fade.

(Figure 1958-26, quality achievement award, 12.25" x 10.25")