Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



The U.S. experienced 10.3% inflation, 7.2% unemployment, auto sales off 20%, and housing starts down 40%, but a feared economic depression did not occur.  The Arab oil embargo ended March 18th.  Franklin National Bank was declared insolvent, the largest bank failure in U.S. history.

With the Watergate scandal plaguing his administration, President Nixon resigned and Vice-President Gerald R. Ford was sworn in.  President Ford then pardoned former President Nixon for “any crimes he may have committed or may have participated in while in office.”  President Ford also offered clemency to Vietnam-era draft dodgers and military deserters if they swore allegiance to the U.S. and performed up to two years of public service work.

At the start of the year the retail price of sugar was 18¢ per pound but after a series of price increases by leading refiners, the price soared to 65¢ per pound in November. 

Streaking (running naked) was the year’s top fad, particularly among college students.

Newly introduced products included Post-It Notes and the Rubik’s Cube.

2,470 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.

Crush International Inc. distributed a 1974 Hires calendar featuring a full-color illustration of “Alice and Mabel” on the cover and this insight into 1974 marketing plans:

A Note About the Girls

Here’s another note of nostalgia from the HIRES archives when the company was just 41 years young.

The beautiful brunette twins appeared in HIRES advertising circa 1918.  Their names were Alice and Mabel.  Their portrait was painted by Haskell Coffin, renowned for his ability to capture the purity and innocence of the young women of the period.

Alice and Mabel will appear on a four-color lithographed 10” x 14” rectangular metal tray.  A companion 10” x 13” oval tray will feature Betty, a young lady with blond windblown hair also painted by Haskell Coffin, circa 1917.  The two trays will be offered as a set for only $3.55.

The famous HIRES Boy seen on last year’s calendar will be illustrated on a reproduction of the 1907-1910 HIRES Mettloch Mug.  The mug will have a capacity of nine ounces and will be made available for only $3.49.

Finally, we will re-issue the 18” x 24” two poster set consisting of the “Rooster and the Boy,” circa 1912 and the “Front Porch,” circa 1925 for only $1.25.

These limited edition replicas of the original memorabilia offered through The HIRES Consumer Offers, 2201 West Main Street, Evanston, Illinois 60202.

Crush International Inc. extended Hires’ 1973 “nostalgia” marketing theme into 1974 by distributing a series of bulletins to bottlers suggesting advertising copy for promoting replica items.  One item that was heavily promoted was a “Hires ‘Old Time’” ceramic mug.  Although referred to as a “mug,” it is actually a stein.

(Figure 1974-01, replica stein bulletin)

The front of the replica stein pictures the Hires Boy holding a stein and includes a trade mark registration symbol following the word Hires.  The back is blank and the base is marked “HIRES is a registered trademark of CRUSH International Inc., Evanston, Ill. 60202, U.S.A.”

(Figure 1974-02, replica stein, front, 4.125” high, 3.5” wide)

(Figure 1974-02, replica stein, base, 4.125” high, 3.5” wide)

These replica steins were later produced with printing on the back, such as one picturing Mickey Mouse and advertising the Southern California Bi-Centennial Antique Advertising Show & Sale held at the Disneyland Hotel in July, 1975. 

(Figure 1974-03, replica trays bulletin)

(Figure 1974-04, replica “Betty” metal tray, 10.0” x 13.75”)

(Figure 1974-05, replica “Alice & Mabel” metal tray, 10.0” x 13.75”)

The fronts of replica Alice and Mabel trays were also overprinted with advertisements promoting the Northern California Antique Advertising Show and Sale at the San Francisco Hyatt Regency February 8-10, 1974, and the Southern California Antique Advertising Show & Sale held at the Disneyland Hotel July 12-14, 1974. 

(Figure 1974-06, replica posters bulletin)

(Figure 1974-07, replica “Front Porch” poster, 18.0” x 24.0”)

(Figure 1974-08, replica “Rooster” poster, 18.0” x 24.0”)

The “Front Porch” and “Rooster” images were also reprinted on paper napkins.

In spite of several historical dating errors, an article in the August, 1974 issue of Softdrinks magazine provides insight into the history of how this marketing plan evolved.


Evanston, Ill. – A promotion idea used by Hires Root Beer in the early 1900s has proved to be just as effective in 1974 as it was nearly 70 years ago.

In 1907, as an incentive to buy more Hires fountain syrup, retailers were given three mugs, made by Mettlach in Germany, with the first five gallons of syrup, six mugs with the purchase of 25 gallons, and 12 mugs when they bought 50 gallons of syrup.  Today these mugs are collector’s items and, among antique buffs, sell for as much as $100 each.

In 1917 and 1918 Hires again offered incentive premiums to fountain owners and managers for buying quantities of syrups.  Only that time, serving trays instead of mugs were given away.

In 1971, Stanley Bokota, marketing manager for Crush International Inc., the parent company of Hires Root Beer, began researching a premium type promotion for Hires.  His search turned up information that indicated a nostalgia premium would be appropriate.  So he had reproductions made of the Mettlach mugs and the trays.

A limited edition of the premiums were introduced in November, 1973.  Within 90 days, the mug premium was completely sold out and 70 percent of the trays had been sold.

"Nostalgia can be characterized as a wistful or sentimental yearning for or return to some past period,” said Bokota.  “We found through various research sources that people tend to relate Hires Root Beer to outdoor fun and general good times.

“When mentioning Hires Root Beer, our primary purchaser, the 18 to 49-year-old homemaker, talked or reminisced about country fairs, amusement parks, picnics and parties.  It was learned that people associated the pleasures of a simpler life style with Hires Root Beer and activities away from home.  What more natural premium concept for Hires than nostalgia, the individual’s reflection of all things fun, good and happy, whether yesterday or fifty years ago.

“We then selected premiums, like the Mettlach mug and the Hires serving tray that would be used at home and were contiguous with our advertising, ‘Take The Good Times Home, It’s High Time For Hires, The Honest Root Beer.’”  The 1974 mugs, which sold for $3.49, were offered as a limited edition premium, 10,000, because of the involved manufacturing process to produce them, said Bokota.  “Each of the mugs has its own mold and every time a mug is made, the mold has to be broken to remove the finished product,” said Bokota.  “Also, each decal of the Hires boy, on every mug, is applied by hand, a time consuming and tedious operation,” he explained.

When Hires decided to reproduce the mug as a premium, it took the company two years to find a firm that could reproduce the mug to the original German specifications.  The cherubic, young boy on the mug was used in all Hires advertising from 1888 until 1926.

The limited edition of the serving trays, 7,500 sets, feature the beautiful young ladies that were created by artist Haskell Coffin and used in Hires ads during the early 1900s.  The 1974 reproductions are made from the same molds, by the same manufacturer as the 1917-1918 trays.  One is an oval tray with the “Lady In Green,” and the other is a rectangular tray that features the “Sisters.”  The two trays sold for $3.55 a set.

In the past few years a number of soft drink firms have had good response to similar nostalgia premiums.  And indeed the public seems to be showing a renewed interest in “the good old days” as shown by the recent popularity of music from and movies about past eras.  However, the success of any premium promotion is, on the whole, dependent on offering the consumer something he feels is worth having.  Hires Root Beer’s nostalgia offer seems to have accomplished just that.

The word Hires is embossed, the edges are rolled, and the corners are rounded on this metal sign. 

(Figure 1974-09, metal sign, 12.0” x 30.0”)

The word Hires is embossed, the edges are flat, and the corners are squared off on this large version of the same sign.

(Figure 1974-10, metal sign, 4.0’ x 10.0’)

The word Hires is embossed, the edges are rolled, and the corners are rounded on this metal chalkboard sign.

(Figure 1974-10.5, metal chalkboard sign, 29.75" x 19.5")

(Figure 1974-11, 12 ounce ACL bottle)

(Figure 1974-12, metal thermometer, 29.0” x 8.0”)

The neck ACL on the bottle pictured on this metal sign is labeled "Authentique," suggesting the sign was likely manufactured for use in Canada. 

(Figure 1974-12.5, embossed metal sign, 8.25” x 35.25”)

(Figure 1974-13, cardboard six-pack carton)

This paper label was used for gallon tins and glass jugs of Hires Root Beer Fountain Syrup.

(Figure 1974-14, paper label)

(Figure 1974-15, cloth patch, 3.5” x 3.0”)

(Figure 1974-16, cloth patch, 8.5” x 6.0”)

Slightly different logos were used for these otherwise identical electric wall clocks.  Their 16.0" x 16.0" plastic faces are illuminated by internal, 15 watt light bulbs.

(Figure 1974-17, electric wall clock without background)

(Figure 1974-17, electric wall clock with wood grain background)

(Figure 1974-17.5, 3D, plastic, wall sign)

(Figure 1974-18, cardboard sign)

Janis Plastics of Chicago, Illinois, a thermoforming specialist, manufactured this thin plastic sign.   

(Figure 1974-19, 3-D, plastic sign, 12.0” x 18.0”)

(Figure 1974-20, paper sign, 22.0” x 7.0”)

This newspaper advertisement ran in Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties, California in late 1974. The incorporated 20¢ off store coupon expired December 31, 1974.

(Figure 1974-21, newspaper advertisement)