A&W Group Shot


Introduced on June 20, 1919, Roy Allen's root beer grew along with America's drive-ins and car culture to become one of America's great classics.


Quick Sips

Perfect Mix

Perfect Mix

Five of Ray Allen's first six stands stood in Sacramento, California, home of the country's first "drive-in" featuring "tray-boys" for curbside service.



Despite government rationing of sugar during World War II, A&W Root Beer stands remained successful. Following the war, the number of A&W outlets tripled, as GI loans paved the way for private enterprise.

The Great Root Bear

The Great Root Bear

In 1974, A&W sugar-free was born along with "The Great Root Bear," a mascot that served as a goodwill ambassador for the brand.

Classic Refreshment

Classic Refreshment

In March 2005, A&W began to appear in the Vintage Bottle, a 20-ounce bottle with graphics reminiscent of an old fashioned root beer barrel.


On June 20, 1919, while the citizens of Lodi, Calif., held a parade honoring returning World War I veterans, a young entrepreneur named Roy Allen set up a roadside drink stand to quench the thirst of the spectators. His new thick and creamy drink concoction, root beer, was an instant success at a nickel per glass mug.

So favorable was customer response to his root beer beverage that Allen immediately took on his first partner, Frank Wright. With his drink-stand success, Allen wasted little time in opening a root beer stand in Stockton, Calif. He soon followed with five stands in nearby Sacramento; two more opened in Houston in 1922. It was here that Allen first introduced "A&W" as the brand name of his root beer.  

In 1924, Allen bought Wright's share of the business to actively pursue a restaurant franchise sales program. With the A&W Root Beer name trademarked, Allen began selling franchises to others. Buying a restaurant franchise enabled individuals to use their own capital to open A&W drive-ins and vending booths, thus establishing America's first franchised restaurant chain. By 1933, there were more than 170 A&W franchised outlets. To ensure the uniform quality of his beverage, Allen exclusively sold A&W Root Beer concentrate to each restaurant franchise operator. 

Driven by the popularity of the automobile and the new mobile society, more than 450 A&W Root Beer stands were operating by 1950. In the same year, founder Roy Allen retired and sold the business to Nebraskan named Gene Hurtz, who formed the
A&W Root Beer Company. 

By 1960 the number of A&W restaurants had swelled to more than 2,000. In 1963, the A&W Root Beer Company was sold to the J. Hungerford Smith Company, the firm that had manufactured Allen's concentrate since 1921. In the same year, the first overseas A&W restaurant opened its doors in Guam. 

Several more ownership changes took place during the '60s and '70s. And, while the only place you could get A&W Root Beer was on tap at an A&W restaurant, America wanted to enjoy it at home. In 1971, United Brands formed a wholly owned subsidiary, A&W Distributing Co., for the purpose of making A&W Root Beer available on the grocery shelf.   Company purchases and mergers continued during the expansion efforts of A&W restaurants, but the root beer remained the category leader. In 1986, A&W Cream Soda and A&W Diet Cream Soda were introduced and distributed nationally, followed in 1987 by the reformulation of sugar-free A&W as Diet A&W.

In October 1993, the A&W brands, excluding the restaurants, became part of Cadbury Beverages.

In March, 2005, A&W began to appear in the Vintage Bottle, a 20-ounce bottle with graphics reminiscent of an old fashioned root beer barrel.

Today, A&W is part of Dr Pepper Snapple Group, the leading producer of flavored soft drinks in North America and the Caribbean.

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