Root Beer – The All American Drink

Here is another offering from my funny friend, Tracy Farr. He’s not funny weird, although some may debate that, he just has a way with humor….

I’m flabbergasted! Totally, unequivocally flabbergasted. And if there be a word in the English language with a stronger meaning, then I’m that, too.

I went to an eating establishment recently, right here in East Texas, that did not have Root Beer on their menu. Let me repeat – They Had No Root Beer. Well, in my mind that’s absolutely unpatriotic; it’s downright subversive; it’s pert near communistic; and it’s on the verge of being positively draconian – but since I have no idea what that means, we’ll skip it for now.

Root Beer is one of those drinks that make this country a great place in which to live. Does Canada have Root Beer? Absolutely not. Does Great Britain? Heaven forbid. How about Iran? Are you kidding? They probably kill their people over there for drinking Root Beer, or at least pull out their tongues.

No, Root Beer is a God Bless American phenomenon that every man, woman and child in this great country should be thankful for having. It’s a western blessing, a true-blue American symbol of all things Yankee Doodle, and it should be revered just as much as baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and that car company that used to build pretty good cars, but then the economy tanked and who knows what they’re building now.

Root Beer, in some form or fashion, has been around for ages, but it was Charles Elmer Hires, a pharmacist from Philadelphia, who invented the very first commercial Root Beer in 1866 – Hires Root Beer.

“Hey, honey, come taste what I just came up with. Made it from roots, out in the garage. I was just fiddling around with some stuff, hoping to come up with a better paint cleaner, and out of the blue, I had Root Beer. You want to be my guinea pig and give it a taste? Oh, c’mon honey, I’m sure you’ll be okay.”

There are hundreds of varieties of Root Beer, but there are no standardized recipes. Artificial sassafras flavoring is the main ingredient, but after that, anything goes. Vanilla. Wintergreen. Licorice root. Nutmeg. Molasses. Even cherry tree bark. If it can be peeled off, dug up, squeezed, or melted down, it’s probably in your favorite brand of Root Beer. And in 1893, Frank J. Wisner found something even better to put in it.

Wisner, the owner of a soda company, was drinking a bottle of Myers Avenue Red Root Beer at his home in Cripple Creek, Colorado, when he looked up at Cow Mountain and saw the snow being lit by a full moon. In that instant, he had a great idea – let’s try floating a scoop of ice cream on top of a glass full of Root Beer.

And thus was born “The Black Cow.” Of course, you and I know it as a Root Beer Float.

I DARE YOU: The next time you’re at Sonic, I dare you, I triple-dog dare you, to push the little button and order a Black Cow. When the person responds that they don’t have a Black Cow, you be insistent and tell them you’re not going to leave without one. Of course, the person will once again deny even hearing of a Black Cow, and you respond, “Okay, just give me a Root Beer Float instead.” Yes, it’s a bit sophomoric, but do it anyway – in honor of that great inventor, Frank J. Wisner.

The thing I like most about Root Beer is that you can make it at home. Do you think you could make Coke or Pepsi in your own kitchen? Of course not. They’re too interested in keeping their formulas secret. That’s why the “Cola Wars” will never be won. There’s no such thing as a Root Beer war. Root Beer is Root Beer, and that’s what makes it great!

I would like to conclude with three of my favorite Root Beer quotes from three of my favorite historical figures:

It was Patrick Henry who said, “Give me Root Beer, or give me death” – or something like that.

It was Benjamin Franklin who said, “Root Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy” – if he didn’t say it, he meant to.

And it was Neil Armstrong who said, “That’s one small step for man; one giant Root Beer for me because I just love the stuff” – okay, I’m not so sure about that one.

Root Beer. It’s an American drink. So stand tall, stand proud, slurp it down with gusto, and don’t forget the frosted mug!


Tracy Farr is a musician and humorist, and in his spare time he drives a school bus. You can find more fun stuff at Stinky Creek , Texas

9 thoughts on “Root Beer – The All American Drink”

  1. OK, don’t shoot me here, but I hate Root Beer. But I have a good reason. My dad used to make us girls (we were a family of all girls, except for him, of course) drink sassafras tea he brewed because he felt it would keep us healthy. He was probably right, but I now hate Root Beer. What I think is un-American is not being able to find Dr. Pepper in towns north of the Red River. Dr. Pepper should be in every restaurant, in every fountain spigot (love that word…take out the go and what do you have?), and in every store. Especially diet Dr. P. What I really want is for Dr. P to come caffeine free in the big 2 or 3 liters (now there’s an unAmerican term). Anyway, I ramble…my Mother used to drive a Rambler…

    Straight From Hel

  2. LOL, Helen. You are almost as funny as Tracy. Note I said, Almost. 🙂

    Will I be sent packing if I admit I do not like Dr. Pepper Sam I am? I tried it when I first came to TX and enjoyed it for a while, then I just couldn’t drink another drop. But then, I rarely drink any soda as they are all too sweet for me.

    I’ve got a sassafras tree in my yard and people have suggested I make tea. Maybe not. 🙂

  3. Okay Maryann, I have a bone to pick! Why is it that when you introduce MY work, I get, “He’s not funny weird, although some may debate that,” and my stories are “a bit of nonsense,” but Good Old Slim gets, “He’s a talented writer…and he’s a joy to read”? Hmmmm, if I was a more sensitive man I might be hurt by that, but since I’m not, thanks for posting some of my stuff on your blog! 🙂

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