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Charles Hires

AKA Charles Elmer Hires

Born: 19-Aug-1851
Birthplace: Elsinboro, NJ
Died: 31-Jul-1937
Location of death: Haverford, PA
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Westminster Cemetery, Bala Cynwyd, PA

Gender: Male
Religion: Quaker
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Inventor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Root beer

Philadelphia pharmacist Charles Hires originally called his beverage "root tea", but was convinced by a friend that it would sell better in his local area -- Pennsylvania's hard-drinking Cumberland County -- if he called it "root beer".

Hires made root beer famous, and root beer made Hires a millionaire, but it is an exaggeration to credit him with inventing the drink. He reportedly first tasted something quite similar to root beer in a restaurant in 1875, and obtained the recipe from the proprietor -- who had in turn based her recipe on long-standing folk recipes for beverages brewed from all manner or roots, bark, and herbs. Hires worked in his laboratory to improve the flavor of the concoction, then reduced it to a powdery concentrate that could be mixed in drug stores to make large quantities of the drink, just by adding water, sugar, and yeast. He also had the idea of serving his beverage cold, instead of hot.

Hires' Root Beer was introduced at the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial exhibition. The Charles E Hires Company was established in 1890, and in addition to the powder began selling the product in convenient pre-mixed bottles in 1893. Hires himself remained active in the business until his son took the reins in 1925. His mother, Mary Williams Hires, was said to be a direct descendant of Martha Washington, from her first marriage to Daniel Parke Custis. His uncle, George Hires, was a U.S. Congressman representing New Jersey's First District from 1885 to 1889.

Father: John Hires (farmer)
Mother: Mary Williams Hires
Brother: Frank Hires
Wife: Clara Kate Smith (b. 1852, d. 1910)
Son: Charles Hires Jr (President of Hires Company)
Son: Harrison Hires (poet)
Son: John Edgar Hires (engineer)
Daughter: Linda Hires (architect)
Daughter: Clara Hires (botanist)
Wife: Emma Waln (school teacher)

    University: Alexander Hamilton Institute (mail order courses)
    University: University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
    University: Thomas Jefferson University



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