Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



Integration was slow and continued to be marked by periodic violence.

The national minimum wage was raised to $1.15 per hour.

Education became a national concern due to inadequate facilities and a lack of quality instruction.

The “Bay of Pigs” invasion by 1500 anti-Castro Cubans quickly collapsed due to a lack of supplies and air support, and overwhelming opposition.  President Kennedy accepted full responsibility for failure of the invasion.

Addressing civil defense, Americans were advised to build or buy fallout shelters.

The U.S. launched its first test of the Minuteman I intercontinental ballistic missile.

After a passenger jet was hijacked, Congress made air piracy punishable by death or imprisonment.

President Kennedy sent 18,000 military “advisors” to South Vietnam.

FCC chairman Newton N. Minow called television a “vast wasteland…It is not enough to cater to a nation’s whims – you must also serve the nation’s needs.”

A Journal of the American Medical Association report linked smoking and heart disease.

Newly introduced products and inventions included the IBM Selectric typewriter, Coffee-mate non-dairy creamer, and Sprite.

4,303 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.

(Figure 1961-01, embossed metal sign, 17.5” x 5.5”)

This hard plastic, electric wall sign was manufactured by Dualite Products, Inc., Cincinnati, 27, Ohio.  It measures 15.0" long, 6.0" high, and 4.0" deep.


(Figure 1961-01.5, hard plastic wall sign)

Teaming with General Mills produced this special promotion: “Twice in March, in 97 Sunday Newspaper comic sections, a full-color ad announces how perfectly the lighter, drier, brighter flavor of Hires goes with pizza…and how Hires can be enjoyed free during the run of this special promotion.”  A creative copywriter coined “pie-ers” (rhymes with “Hires”) for the headline.

(Figure 1961-02, The American Soft Drink Journal, March 6, 1961)

Extensive placements of this full page magazine advertisement picturing Bob Hope were timed to coincide with the release of Bachelor in Paradise, a movie co-starring Bob Hope and Lana Turner.  A half-page, black-and-white version of the advertisement was also used.

(Figure 1961-03, magazine advertisement)

This electric wall clock was manufactured by the Pam Clock Company in New Rochelle, New York.  Two 15 watt bulbs illuminated the face from behind.  It is marked “© ’61” near the front base.  Note the “Since 1876” logo, rather than Hires in a trapezoid.

(Figure 1961-04, electric wall clock)

(Figure 1961-05, 3-D, plastic, electric wall clock, 22.0” x 17.5”)

This barrel-shaped, tin, wall sign measures 4.0' wide and 5.5' tall and is backed with a plywood frame for added support.  The barrel bands and "Hires" lettering are embossed. 

(Figure 1961-05.5, tin wall sign)

This metal Porta-Frig ice chest manufactured by the St. Thomas Metal Sign Company in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada measures 21.0" long, 12.0" high, and 12.0" deep. 

(Figure 1961-05.8, metal Porta-Frig ice chest)

Menu stationery made available to dealers selling food was updated with the Hires logo in a trapezoid and the "puts more life in your fun" slogan.

(Figure 1961-06, menu stationery, 8.5” x 5.5”)

The front and back of this 12 ounce, flat-top, steel can display the Hires Since 1876 logo and the “Lighter! Drier! Brighter! slogan.  The rusted top of the pictured example is marked “Hires” and the side is labeled “PACKED BY HIRES CANNING CO., ST. PAUL, MINN.”   

(Figure 1961-07, 12 ounce, flat-top, steel can)

These three-dimensional wall signs were made of light-weight, vacuum-formed, plastic.

(Figure 1961-08, 3-D plastic sign, 22.0” x 12.0”)

(Figure 1961-09, 3-D plastic sign, 16.0” x 11.0”)

This full page advertisement showed potential franchisees the assortment of cans and bottles utilized by Hires at the time.  Note the returnable and non-returnable packages, 12 and 16 ounce bottles in “cluster or basket packs,” a “32-ounce family size quart with the bright new label,” and mention of “the increasingly popular, tasty, low-calorie Hires.” 

(Figure 1961-10, The American Soft Drink Journal, July 24, 1961)

This clear, 64 ounce, NO DEPOSIT - NO RETURN bottle is 11.375" tall and matches the example pictured in the upper left hand corner of Figure 1961-10.  Instead of the newer logo with Hires in a trapezoid and a background of stripes, this bottle utilized an older Hires Since 1876 paper label. 

(Figure 1961-10.5, half gallon NO DEPOSIT - NO RETURN bottle)

Many beverage companies introduced low-calorie diet drinks during the 1960s, including Hires with Low-Calorie Hires in both bottles and cans.  The paper labels on this full, clear, no deposit–no return bottle identify the contents as “Low Calorie Hires Root Beer Flavored Dietetic Beverage.”  Note the Hires No Sugar and keg logo.  Two styles of crown caps and a steel can are also illustrated. 

(Figure 1961-11, Low Calorie Hires bottle, 9.0” tall)

(Figure 1961-12, crown caps)

(Figure 1961-13, steel can)

In addition to introducing low calorie Hires Root Beer, 1961 brought the launch of six new Hires flavors.  This advertisement announced “six brand-new sparkling, bubbling, top-quality flavors,” including Cherry Cola, Ginger Ale, Imitation Grape Soda, Grapefruit Beverage, Lemon & Lime Soda, and True Fruit Orange Soda.  All six flavors were bottled in clear, ACL bottles bearing the red on yellow Hires in a trapezoid logo, and the slogan “PUTS MORE LIFE IN YOUR FUN.”

(Figure 1961-14, The American Soft Drink Journal, August, 1961)

(Figure 1961-14.5, cardboard six-pack carton insert, 9.0" x 2.0")

Here are two examples of signage advertising sale prices on six-pack cartons of Hires.  Note the repeat use of the “politician” figure for both items.

(Figure 1961-15, cardboard sign, 24.0” x 18.0”)

(Figure 1961-16, cardboard hanger, 8.75” x 3.75”)

(Figure 1961-16.5, clear glass mug with barrel logo, 4.625" tall)

The artwork for steel cans was updated, placing the Hires logo in a trapezoid on a keg image and adding the “Lighter! Drier! Brighter!” slogan.

(Figure 1961-17, steel can)

(Figure 1961-18, pinback nametag button, 3.0” diameter)                    

(Figure 1961-19, pinback button, 3.0” diameter)                    

The National Decalcomania Corporation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the “oldest decalcomania manufacturers in America,” manufactured this window decal.  The backing paper is still attached to the pictured example.  This decal was assigned Hires item number BW-3N.  

(Figure 1961-20, window decal, 6.0” x 9.0”)

This proposed artist’s mockup including the “Lighter! Drier! Brighter!” slogan was apparently never utilized for either a magazine advertisement or a display rack sign.

(Figure 1961-21, artist’s mockup)

The September, 1961 issue of News Front, “the picture news magazine for management,” featured a three page article about Hires.  (News Front was produced by the J. G. Ferguson Publishing Company in Chicago.  The article about Charles E. Hires was reprinted in it’s entirely when Ferguson published The 50 Great Pioneers of American Industry in 1965.)  In addition to recounting Hires’ highly successful marketing of Hires Root Beer, the News Front article included observations about Hires’ ultimate impact plus insight into the state of the U.S. soft drink industry in 1961:

He Started Soda Sales Popping

Charles E. Hires' Root Beer Launched In 1876 Set Pattern of National Distribution

A large, thirsty market was ready and waiting in 1876 when Charles E. Hires, a young Philadelphia druggist, began marketing a drink he called Root Beer.

Soft drinks were already a national habit.  An infant bottling industry was turning out hundreds of variously flavored beverages.  Many housewives concocted their own, and so did the proud proprietors of newfangled soda fountains.

It was Hires, with national advertising and distribution, that set the pace for the industry’s phenomenal late 19th century growth – from 8.4 million cases of bottled drinks in 1869 to 38.8 million thirty years later.  By 1960, over 1.5 billion cases were turned out in 5,400 bottling plants; the industry’s sales volume was over $1.5 billion.  And per capita consumption of soft drinks was 205 bottles…

The franchise system of soft drink production and distribution, under which extract is supplied by the parent company to local bottlers, was well developed by the early 1900s.

Root Beer, the drink that started it all, accounts for a relatively small slice of today’s soft drink sales. 

The cola drinks are the national favorites by a wide margin, accounting for 64% of sales.  Lemon and lime are second with 9%, orange third with 6%.  Root Beer and ginger ale are tied for fourth place with 4% each.

The industry’s five largest firms are, in order, Coca-Cola Co., Pepsi-Cola Co., Seven-Up Co., Nehi Corp., and Dr Pepper Co.  Its diversity is indicated by the fact that these five giants, between them, control only slightly more than half of the nation’s 5,400 franchise bottling plants. 

The company, which remained under family ownership until last year, when Consolidated Foods Corp. acquired the Hires family stock, is still the largest root beer maker in the world.  About 25% of the root beer sold in the U.S. is Hires; the rest comes from more than 1,000 small companies.

The grand total of drinks of Hires Root Beer sold stands today at a thirst-quenching 11.5 billion – and is still climbing slowly but steadily up.

Hires closed out 1961 with yet another trade journal advertisement.  Consolidated Foods' copywriters failed to do their homework when preparing the copy, claiming Hires has been “The world’s largest selling root beer for over 90 years,” pushing the introduction of Hires Root Beer to before 1871.  Also note mention of “The new Hires flavor line…a complete range of popular, consumer-tested flavors.”   

(Figure 1961-22, The American Soft Drink Journal, December 11, 1961)