An effervescent biography of Charles Elmer Hires, the Philadelphia pharmacist who introduced root beer to the American public
Charles E. Hires and the Drink that Wowed a Nation
The Life and Times of a Philadelphia Entrepreneur
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Introduced at the 1876 Centennial Exposition and powered by an historic advertising campaign, Hires Root Beer—launched 10 years before Coca-Cola—blazed the trail for development of the American soft drink industry. Its inventor, Charles Elmer Hires, has been described as "a tycoon with the soul of a chemist." In addition to creating root beer, Hires, a devoted family man and a pillar of the Quaker community, became a leading importer of botanical commodities, an authority on the vanilla bean. Starting from scratch, he also built one of the world's largest condensed milk companies.
Bill Double is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer and author of Philadelphia's Washington Square.