Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



Anti-integration riots in New Orleans were the worst since the instigation of mandatory school integration.

Combined federal, state, and local taxes amounted to 25% of earnings.

John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States.

Xerox introduced the first commercial document reproduction machine.

Newly introduced products and inventions included electronic watches, aluminum beverage cans, and Etch-a-Sketch.

4,402 soft drink bottling plants were in operation in the U.S.

This clear glass mug with a white ACL has ten flat panels around the base.  It is also found in a 6.0” tall and 3.0” base diameter size.

(Figure 1960-01, clear glass mug, 4.5” tall x 2.75 base diameter”)

A Hires vending machine and manual service paper cup was one of the eight “special print Lily” cups chosen to illustrate this black-and-white Lily-Tulip advertisement.

(Figure 1960-02, The American Soft Drink Journal, March 3, 1960)

Here’s an example of the Hires paper cup depicted in the preceding advertisement.

(Figure 1960-03, Hires Lily-Tulip paper cup)

This advertisement introduced Hires' new “Lighter! Drier! Brighter!” slogan.  Claiming “Demand for Hires has been growing for 90 years” pegs Hires’ founding date as 1870. 

(Figure 1960-04, The American Soft Drink Journal, April 11, 1960)

Different versions of this “Top if off with HIRES” advertisement ran during May, 1960.  The theme of this full page example was “AN ADVENTURE IN REFRESHMENT,” with copy related to Treasure Island and pirates.

(Figure 1960-05, full page magazine advertisement, May, 1960)

These half page examples of similar advertisements include revised copy.  Note the addition of “IT’S LIGHTER…DRIER…BRIGHTER!” in the first example, and revision of Hires’ founding claim to “For nearly 90 years” in the second example.

(Figure 1960-06, Saturday Evening Post, May 28, 1960)

(Figure 1960-07, Saturday Evening Post)

This photograph of a Hires booth in operation during a home show was likely taken on St. Patrick’s Day, given the men’s leprechaun outfits and the large shamrock attached to the “Hires an adventure in refreshment” sign across the front of the booth.  Note all of the Hires signage, plus the giant display bottle and numerous sample cups on the counter.

(Figure 1960-08, Hires booth at a home show)

The “adventure in refreshment” theme continued via the six-pack carton depicted on this cardboard sign.

(Figure 1960-09, cardboard sign, 19.75” x 28.5”)

The company-owned bottling plant in Baltimore, Maryland was closed in September, 1960.

The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania-based Keystone Bottlers Association’s November 4, 1960 Bulletin #100 reported “At the Bedford Springs Convention, C. Edgar Hires was elected president, moving up from vice-president…It was a most rewarding session for the record number of bottlers and boosters who attended.”

The “Adventure in Refreshment” theme was used for these three 15.0” x 12.75” die-cut, cardboard, counter signs with easel backs, and a “Store Managers Sale” sign.

(Figure 1960-10, cardboard counter sign)

(Figure 1960-11, cardboard counter sign)

(Figure 1960-12, cardboard counter sign)

(Figure 1960-13, cardboard wall sign)

This 13.25" x 32.0" wooden sign was apparently an artist’s proposed mockup featuring the "Adventure in Refreshment" slogan.  The attached "Drink Hires" decal is very similar to signage produced in 1957 (see Figure 1957-24) with a slightly different bottle image.  Close examination reveal's the pencil lines the artist used for the lettering, and at some point the bottle neck portion of the decal was reattached slightly off from the original positioning.  No production versions of this sign are known.

(Figure 1960-13.5, wooden artist's mockup)

The Press Sign Company in St. Louis, Missouri produced door pushers and handles.  The center sign portion of the pusher slides on the frame, allowing it to fit various size doors.  The back reads “Thank You…Please Call Again” for use on glass door installations.

(Figure 1960-14, metal door pusher)

These metal door handles were typically used on screen doors.   

(Figure 1960-15, metal door handle, 14.25" x 2.625")

(Figure 1960-16, matchbook)


The demise of Hires Root Beer is the ultimate tale of how stubbornness, inefficiencies, competition, and greed can drive a superior soft drink label into oblivion.  The Hires family made some significant miscalculations over the years.  After World War II, when sugar rationing was diminishing and soft drinks were soaring in popularity, Hires decided to build their own free-standing plants in major markets, rather than continuing to work thru independent bottlers.  Instead of turning operations over to franchisees, they tried to do it all from headquarters, and just weren’t powerful enough to sustain free-standing operations with just one soft drink brand like Hires Root Beer.  After building plants in major cities with complete production facilities and buying bottles, cases, and delivery trucks, they were forced to close most of the new plants. 

Hires’ profits steadily declined during the last half of the 1950s due not only to rising expenses, but also because of increased marketplace competition from A&W, Barq’s, Dad’s, IBC, and Mug Root Beer.  Rising expenses and declining sales was a deadly combination, and in late 1960 the Hires family chose to sell their majority interest in The Charles E. Hires Company to the Consolidated Foods Corporation in Chicago.  The Hires Company was subsequently liquidated and merged into Consolidated as the “Charles E. Hires Division of Consolidated Foods Corporation.”  Consolidated Foods continued to utilize the main office and bottling plant in Philadelphia, along with the remaining seven company-owned Hires plants, while also servicing the approximately 400 remaining franchisee Hires bottlers in the United States.