Hires To You headerThe Illustrated History of Hires Root Beer



Inflation hit 12.4%, unemployment was at 7.1%, and automobile sales fell 20% below 1979 levels to a 19 year low mark.  Ford Motor Company reported a $595 million loss, the largest ever for a U.S. corporation. 

The federal hourly minimum wage was raised to $3.10 per hour.

Race riots in Miami, Florida left 14 dead and over 300 injured, and caused $100 million in property damage.

The U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated Finland to win the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York.

America boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympic Games in Moscow in response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Mt. St. Helens erupted in Washington State after being dormant since 1857.

The worst drought since the 1930s devastated crops and livestock and killed 1,272 people in 20 states. 

Ronald Reagan was elected President of the U.S. in a landslide Republican victory.

The “Who Shot J.R.?” episode of the “Dallas” television show was seen by more U.S. viewers than any other television program in history.

Former Beatle John Lennon was shot and killed in New York City.

The Cable News Network went on the air June 1, 1980.

IBM delivered a prototype personal computer to Microsoft to facilitate development of MS-DOS, the operating system for IBM’s first PC.

3-M introduced Post-In Notes.

The Pac-Man computer game was first released.

The Boston Celtics’ Larry Bird bested Los Angeles’ Magic Johnson for NBA rookie of the year

1,841 U.S. soft drink bottling plants were in operation.

This bottle topper consisted of a 7.0" x 4.5" clear, plastic bag containing three "Scratch 'n' Sniff" Valentine cards and three envelopes "(non mailable)."  One has to assume/hope the "sniff" provided the aroma of Genuine Hires Root Beer. 

(Figure 1980-01, Valentine bottle topper)

Staff writer Burr Van Atta composed this obituary which appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper Friday, March 21, 1980. 


Charles E. Hires Jr., 88, the man who made Hires Root Beer the world’s best-selling drink during Prohibition days, died Wednesday at his Malvern home.  President and board chairman of the Charles E. Hires Co. during the years of the Philadelphia firm’s fastest growth, he joined the firm shortly after his graduation from Haverford College in 1913.

Son of Charles E. Hires, the man who in 1876 concocted the drink of roots, barks and berries in a drugstore at Sixth and Spruce Streets, Mr. Hires guided the company in its switch from a homebrewed and fountain drink to a bottled beverage.  Under his direction, the firm opened plants in Boston, New Haven, Washington D.C., Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Minneapolis, as well as in Philadelphia.

Mr. Hires, who directed the company from the 1920s until his retirement in 1950, remained active in the firm as a member of its board of directors until Hires was acquired by the Consolidated Foods Corp. in 1960.  The consolidation permitted Hires to undertake major expansion into the European and the Central and South American markets.

He was described as a compassionate man, one who sought to help his fellow man.  “He was a true Quaker,” a friend observed.  His plant was a constant target for unionization by the Teamsters during the Depression, family members recalled.  But his employees regularly voted against unionization.  Violence flared and Mr. Hires then urged the workers to join the union.  They followed his suggestion.  But because the pay rates and benefits paid at Hires were well above the union’s scale, everyone had to take a pay cut, a member of the family reported.

Other than his family and the business, Mr. Hires’ interests centered largely on Haverford College and its students.  He often went to the campus to talk with students.

One day in his years as an arts and philosophy major at Haverford furnished him with one of his favorite stories.  It made him one of the few who had a chance to read their own obituaries.  While a senior member of Haverford’s football team, he was kicked in the abdomen during a game.  After eight hours in the operating room, there seemed little hope for him, and the Philadelphia Public Ledger published his obituary.  Mr. Hires treasured the yellowing clipping. 

Owner and chief officer of the Hires Sugar Co., a 25,000-acre plantation in Cardenas, Cuba, Mr. Hires sold the firm shortly before Fidel Castro led his followers in their successful revolt.

Mr. Hires, who also maintained homes in Guatemala and Tucson, Ariz., was a member of the Merion Meeting of Friends.  He was a charter member of the Havana (Cuba) Country Club.  He is survived by two sons, Roger G. and Peter Z., eight grandchildren and a sister.

Funeral services will be held at the convenience of the family.

Apparently satisfied with the results of the 1979 marketing promotion, in early 1980 Crush International Inc. introduced another “HIRES Catch A Draft Sweepstakes.”  1980's "thousands of prizes" included:

15 Stern Big Game Pinball Machines – Win this totally electronic commercial pinball machine with exciting playfield action and advanced electronic sounds.

Fisher Stereo Equipment – stereo systems, tape decks, receivers

50 Raleigh Super Record 10-speed bicycles – equipped with alloy components on a lightweight high tensile steel frame

265 Pair of Pony Express VSD Running Shoes – Pony’s second generation of biomechanically developed running shoes

10 Sets of Shakespeare Fishing Equipment – casting and spinning rod and reel sets

100 HIRES SKYNASAURS – an incredible new space age wind-powered flying device

100 Collections of Cool-Ray Sunglasses

2000 HIRES Root Beer T-Shirts – a nifty T-Shirt from HIRES in one of two catchy designs

Entries needed to be postmarked on or before June 30, 1980. 

(Figure 1980-01.5, magazine advertisement)

Attracted by the enormous profit and growth potential of the soft drink business, in 1980 Procter & Gamble paid approximately $50 million to purchase the United States operations of Crush International, owners of the Hires and Crush brands.  Operating as “Crush USA,” one of the first visible ownership changes was a logo revision announced via a salesman’s display kit:

"Hires introduces New packaging for the 80’s – Newly Designed To Appeal To All Consumers And Build Business…There are 30 ingredients in New, Improved Hires.  Top quality from 4 continents.  Together, they combine to form New Improved Hires…The Preferred Product…It’s a Luscious Creamy New Taste!”

The new logo soon appeared on a wall clock, drinking glass, and aluminum can:

(Figure 1980-02, plastic-faced, electric wall clock, 16.0” x 16.0”)

(Figure 1980-03, drinking glass, 5.25” x 2.75”)

(Figure 1980-04, Sugar-Free aluminum can, 12 ounces)

This cardboard matchbook was produced for Crush International Inc. by the Universal Match Corporation in Cincinnati, Ohio.

(Figure 1980-05, cardboard matchbook)

Cross pen and pencil sets were produced as presentation items for selected company employees or Hires franchise bottlers.  "GENUINE Hires ROOT BEER" logos were affixed to the clips.   

(Figure 1980-06, Cross pen and pencil set - closed)

(Figure 1980-06, Cross pen and pencil set - open)