Great ideas are born in American basements, and one of those great ideas is now known as America's premium root beer. Ely Klapman and Barney Berns invented Dad's Root Beer in the basement of Klapman's Chicago home in the 1930s. They began selling their root beer soda under the name Dad's in 1937 and trademarked it in 1939. The Dad's Root Beer Company was a best seller all throughout the Midwest with a loyal following by the late 1940s.
Jules Klapman (son of Ely Klapman) took over the company and marketed the soft drink under the name Dad's Old Fashioned Root Beer. Not only did that warm and fuzzy retro name honor Ely Klapman, but it also was a tip of the hat to countless fathers who made homemade root beer for their families in basements during the early 1900s.
The core ingredients of Dad's include wintergreen, licorice, vanilla, cane sugar, carbonated water, and of course, that rich beautiful caramel color. Back in the 1950s and '60s when boys and girls wooed each other with root beer floats down at the soda fountain, this brand was the popular caffeine-free way to keep those teenage hormones in check. Many root beer aficionados still consider Dad's to be the best root beer sold today.
Not only was Dad's a winner in root beer flavor, but it was also a marketing and packaging innovator. Dad's Root Beer was the first product to use the cardboard six-packs invented by the Atlanta Paper Company in the 1940s. This soda brand was also the first soft drink sold in half-gallon bottle size. Since the root beer now came in small, medium and large sizes, it was now marketed as a cute Root Beer Family: The Papa size (half gallon), The Mama size (1 quart) and the Junior size (7, 10, or 12 fl oz). In the 1940s, Dad's Root Beer ran cleverly marketed sales. "Purchase the Papa half gallon at regular price and get the Mama quart for 1 cent!" That is a deal!
Fun Fact! The little boy pictured on the Junior size bottle is co-creator Barney Bern's son, Gene Burns.
In the 1970s, the Klapman and Berns families sold the Dad's name and recipe to IC Industries. In 1986, The Monarch Beverage Company of Atlanta bought Dad's from Chicago's IC Industries. The brand was on fire, selling 12 million cases a year, distributed by the Coca-Cola bottler company. The only root beer that sold more than Dad's Root Beer was A&W.
In 2007, Hedinger Brands bought the company from Monarch Beverage and sweetened up the deal with Bubble Up Soda, Dr. Wells, and Sun Crest Soda brands. Hedinger Brands, with its HQ in Jasper Indiana, helped add over 100 new retailers across the country for Dad's Old Fashioned Root Beer.
It's been almost 85 years since Dad's came out of that Chicago basement with no sign of stopping any time soon. Over time more flavors have been added to the family including Diet Dad's Root Beer, Dad's Cream Soda, Orange Cream Soda, Red Cream Soda, Blue Cream Soda, Bubble Up Lemon Lime, Sun Crest Orange, and Dr. Wells soda.
Even for the father who has everything, he can never have enough root beer. Get some root beer in the cool glass bottles as a perfect Father's Day gift.
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