Bill Double, who cut his teeth as a journalist at the Coatesville Record in the late 1960s, has written a book on the history of Hires Root Beer, the groundbreaking beverage with ties to the Main Line, writes J.F. Pirro for Main Line Today.
According to Double, author of Charles E. Hires and the Drink That Wowed a Nation: The Life and Times of a Philadelphia Entrepreneur, it was advertising that led to the rise of the soft drink.
“He advertised in a way that few companies had up to that time,” Double said of Charles Hires. “He paved the way for the soft drink industry.”
Hires’s original plan was to move to the Main Line. He purchased land in 1892 near the railroad station in Devon, but the plan never came to fruition.
Instead, he built a condensed milk factory in Malvern in 1899, and by 1900, he had shifted all root beer manufacturing from Philadelphia to Malvern. However, he later reversed that after finding it was easier to ship from the city.
Hires moved to Haverford in 1903, building a home for his first wife and their five children. (One of them, Harrison, was a Haverford College grad who settled in Berwyn. Another, Charles Jr., lived in Paoli.) By 1921, Hires had a net worth of $2 million, equivalent to $27 million today.
Read more about Hires Root Beer in Main Line Today here.