A&W Rootbeer

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorUniversity, Bachelor's November 2001

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At a glance, it may seem that A&W Rootbeer had little to no influence on the 1920's. However, I urge the observer to look further into the rise and capitalism of this small beverage company. Once a person is able to realize all the aspects to the growth of such a company, they can start to make a conclusion about it's contribution to life in the 1920's. It can be argued that the growth of A&W Rootbeer in no way aided a reformation of lifestyle in the 1920's, but the facts obviously point in a different direction. Indeed it did help form the lifestyle of the 1920's in a variety of ways.

In order for one to understand how a simple "soft drink" could become an instant success, they would have to look at the genius entrepreneur atmosphere in which the company was launched. Not only was the timing perfect, but the technique used to distribute the product was extremely helpful in its success.

See, a young entrepreneur named Roy Allen was the founder of the company. He purchased the formula for the thick and creamy drink from a traveling pharmacist in Flagstaff, Arizona. Once he had the formula, and was able to produce large amount of the drink, he waited for the perfect time to introduce his drink to the public. He wanted its first debut to be a good one. On June 20th, 1919, Allen set up his first roadside stand in Lodi, California. The timing and environment were perfect. It was an extremely hot day, so therefore people were looking for a way to quench their thirst. On top of that, the town of Lodi was holding an enormous parade for returning World War 1 veterans. The conditions for such a sale of goods could not have been better. Allen's drink became an instant local success. This swift and genius debut of the drink helped to shoot the company off and make it take the nation by storm.

Roy Allen wasted no time in expanding the grip of his root-beer company. He teamed up with a business partner Frank Wright. These two formed the name as we know today by combining the first letter of both of their last names. A&W Root-beer was officially founded, and began to expand. The second stand that was opened was located in Sacramento, CA. This stand hosted the nation's very first "drive in" restaurant. People across America took the idea of a drive-in restaurant and ran with it. This started a brand new craze that would sweep the nation and give people from around the country a new form of entertainment. The country was not in the best shape in that time period. There was much corruption in the government, and the economy was going through some hard times. But despite all of this, A&W Root-beer drive-in stands gave people a inexpensive place to go in order to have fun. With more and more stands opening around the country, A&W Root-beer became a family name. It was a place where families could go to spend a clean, and enjoyable time.

Not only did A&W Root-beer start a new "drive-in fad," but it also started a business deal that would be carried on by other companies, even to this day. In 1924, Roy Allen bought Frank Wright's shares in the company, and decided to try a new method of business. Allen issued a deal that let individuals open their own drive-in and root-beer stands using their own money. This became known as franchising. A&W Root-beer stands began popping up all over the nation in larger numbers than before. The nations first ever franchised restaurant chain had begun. Soon after that, other restaurants began to follow suite. Today, nearly all major restaurants use the franchising method.

By the late 1920's, A&W Root-beer became more than just a chain of restaurants. It became a nation-wide "logo". Nearly everyone in the country knew about the tasty drink that made so many people flock to the nearest stand in order to get a taste of it. Soon, production of A&W merchandise was under way. Glass mugs and shot glasses were among the first to appear on the shelves. The A&W logo became a part of the American culture, just as definite as apple pie. In a way, A&W Root-beer kind of carried the United States through its hard times. The reign of A&W continued throughout time, and even into the present day! Some of the greatest influences on lifestyles and society are the businesses and organizations that they house. A&W Root-beer revolutionized the restaurant lifestyle of this country. It did so in the same way that Microsoft revolutionized the software industry: By a good, satisfying product, by the perfect timing, and by the right execution of the business plan. With all of these things combined, A&W Root-beer was able to imprint a large mark in history, and even today holds a significant place in the hearts and minds of people from around the country.