1923 Hires Household Extract Advertisement

Advertisement for Hires Household Extract
Source: Ladies Home Journal (May, 1923)

This hundred-year-old advertisement makes it sound very economical to make homemade root beer. I wonder how much a bottle of commercially manufactured root beer cost back then.

13 thoughts on “1923 Hires Household Extract Advertisement

  1. My husband grew up making root beer with his parents. A small amount of yeast is added when mixing it up with the sugar to provide the bubbles (and a minute amount of alcohol). The concentrate is still available and we wanted to make it last summer with our nieces kids. He also bought root beer and ice cream to make floats before we got to the root beer project. Sadly, these kids had never had root beer and are more used to the Mexican sweet fruity sodas. They wouldn’t eat the root beer floats so no point in making the soda. Interesting bit from Wikipedia – I never knew – “Pharmacist Charles Elmer Hires was the first to successfully market a commercial brand of root beer. Hires developed his root tea made from sassafras in 1875, debuted a commercial version of root beer at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876, and began selling his extract. Hires was a teetotaler who wanted to call the beverage “root tea”. However, his desire to market the product to Pennsylvania coal miners caused him to call his product “root beer”, instead.”

    1. Root beer floats were really special treats when I was a child. I guess that tastes change over time – but I tend to think that kids today are missing something if the don’t like root beer. Your description of making root beer makes me want to give it a try. Thanks for researching the history of root beer. It’s a fascinating story.

  2. I too wonder if this was worth the fuss, or much cheaper than buying a bottle of root beer. (Personally, this weird-looking kid wouldn’t entice me to do anything but run! But I do occasionally buy Hires when I see it, just for making floats!)

    1. I also wondered about the child in the advertisement. She doesn’t look very photogenic to me – Was she a relative of Mr. Hires? Were standards for attractiveness different back then?

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