Killing A Product – The “Premature” Demise of Hires Root Beer

Hires – The First Root Beer, Dying A Slow, Prolonged Death

I know soda isn’t good for you. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and many nutritionists would like to slap a soda tax on sugary beverages.

I try not to drink a lot of soda, but I have a sweet spot in my heart for Hires Root Beer. I love the stuff. It is by far the best root beer ever made and I have tried many of them:  IBC, Stewart’s, Mug, A&W, Dr. Brown’s and about a dozen or more other smaller regional brands, and none compare to the unique, smooth taste of Hires.  But I have not had a sip of Hires in over six years.

I did not forsake Hires.  Instead the brand has slowly been vanishing off the shelves of supermarkets in an ever widening circle over the past 20 years. It is now unavailable in most portions of the United States and Canada.

How did the oldest continually produced soft drink and for many years, most popular root beer in America get to this situation?

The answer lies in the beverage industry and their mistaken belief that a company should support only one line of a given product.  Through acquisitions and mergers these big companies gobble up smaller soda competitors, acquiring their brands and either concentrate on expanding them or as is more often the case – eliminating them.

via Killing A Product – The Demise of Hires Root Beer – Stuff Nobody Cares
Jimmy Carter

Soft Drink Interbrand Competition Act Statement on Signing S. 598 Into Law.
July 10, 1980

Public Papers of the Presidents
Jimmy Carter
1980-81: Book II
Jimmy Carter
1980-81: Book II

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The American Presidency Project

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I have signed into law S. 598, the “Soft Drink Interbrand Competition Act.” The purpose of this legislation is to “clarify the circumstances under which territorial provisions in licenses to manufacture, distribute, and sell trademarked soft drink products are lawful under the antitrust laws.”

Since 1971, soft drink bottlers have been faced with the uncertainty created by pending legal proceedings challenging the legality of territorial provisions in their franchise agreements. As the report of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives explains, this legislation is intended simply to eliminate that uncertainty by reaffirming legislatively the rule of reason approach followed by the Supreme Court in Continental T.V. Inc. v. GTE Sylvania, Inc., 433 U.S. 36 (1977). While I have had misgivings about the language of earlier versions of this bill, I believe that the amendments adopted by the House of Representatives, and agreed to by the Senate, have met the objective of eliminating that uncertainty. The House report emphasizes that the act “does not grant antitrust immunities.” Under these circumstances, I do not believe that the bill establishes a special antitrust exemption or permits otherwise illegal restrictions on competition.


Note: As enacted, S. 598 is Public Law 96308, approved July 9.
Citation: Jimmy Carter: “Soft Drink Interbrand Competition Act Statement on Signing S. 598 Into Law. ,” July 10, 1980. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.

Because of the Soft Drink Interbrand Competition Act of July 10, 1980, Dr. Peppers/Snapple can own A&W and Hires, along with several other sodas. But they have to sell the sodas in different areas so they don’t compete. This put Hires online. You rarely can buy Hires in a store. Apparently, The Root Beer Store has gotten around this probably by buying Hires online as well. Dr. Peppers/Snapple has shoved Hires aside with A&W and placed Hires in the “backwater” of sodas.

I complained to my state Senator about the demise of Hires and I got a copy of this soda law.

Hires is a rare root beer and it can be bought online.

7 thoughts on “Killing A Product – The “Premature” Demise of Hires Root Beer

  1. Robert,
    Just read your article about Hires. I drank a LOT of Hires growing up. Actually ..I just came in the house after mowing the lawn in the heat…and I’m drinking a can of COLD Hires. It’s not as good as when I was a kid…when it was made with cane sugar in a glass bottle…but it still beats every root beer I’ve ever tasted.
    Have you found a source for Hires yet?


    1. Thank you for reading by blog. I know of only two sources for Hires Root Beer: The Root Beer Store in Washington and e bay. I like Hires too. Its one of few root beers with a sold “old-time” root beer taste.



  2. Robert,
    It’s still available at a few Winco Stores in western Washington state. I bought some in May for $4.98 a 12 pack. If I may ask..what part of the U. S. do you live in? The reason I ask is …I visit California every year & drive to Texas(from Washington state) 2-3 times a year. If you were on my way…I could pick up some for you.


    1. Winco Stores… I will look into this. Skeet, that is very nice of you. I buy Hires online so there is no need for
      you to drive around packs of Hires for me. That is a very nice thing for you to offer. I appreciate that very much.
      I live on the Central Coast of California, San Benito County.


    2. WinCo Foods #59 – 4488 W. Shaw Ave, Fresno, California 93722

      PHONE NUMBER: 559-271-2199
      Download & Print Store Map
      STORE HOURS: Open 24 hrs. a day

      This is the closest store for me. I drive over the Fresno area to visit my Mother and Sister’s family. I may look into WinCo and see if they have Hires.


  3. Robert,
    I haven’t seen Hires at any Winco store outside the Seattle area. Maybe because the nearest licensed bottler is in central Washington state. I’ve heard its still available in NW Montana.
    It sure would be cool…if some bottler in California has a license to produce it. Good Luck!


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