In response to the temperance movement and the quest to find better-tasting non-alcoholic beverages, Hires developed a strong tasting tea concentrate made up of more than 25 herbs, roots and berries. He then mixed it with seltzer and – voilà – one of the greatest soft drinks ever was invented.
Hires promoted his new concoction on a commercial scale at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exposition. To ensure that it appealed to the largest audience possible, he wisely called it root beer instead of root tea. By 1893, Hires Root Beer was sold as a bottled soft drink.
Today, Hires is one of the many brand mass-producing the beverage along with the A&W, Barq’s and Mug. However, numerous root beers are sold on a regional basis across the country. The best I ever had was Sprecher’s Root Beer, which is brewed in Wisconsin.