Root beer! Nearly all of us have had a cold root beer on a warm summer day. Why, it’s nearly as American as apple pie and voting. One of the most famous of all root beer manufacturers in the country, Dad’s Root Beer, enjoys a numismatic connection with the general public. The formula for Dad’s was concocted in the 1930s by Barney Berns and Ely Klapman in a Chicago basement, leading to the founding of the company in 1937.
Locally famous throughout the Midwest, by the late 1940s Dad’s Root Beer was among the most popular soft drinks in the entire country. Dad’s Root Beer was an innovator and its product was the first brand to be sold in the six-pack format in America, and they also introduced the half-gallon bottle. Their marketing also included sizes such as “Junior,” their seven, 10, and 12 ounce sizes; “Mama,” their one-quart size offering; and “Papa,” their half-gallon size. Another innovation in the 1940s was their famous “One-cent” sale – buy a “Papa” sized half gallon bottle and get a “Mama” sized quart bottle for just one cent.
As with many companies, the original Dad’s was sold in the 1970s, but its formula and fame were included in the deal. In 2012, Dad’s Root Beer celebrated its 75th Anniversary, and is still going strong today. But how is Dad’s connected to numismatics, or rather, exonumia? I have two crimped bottle caps in my exonumia collection from Dad’s Root Beer. One reads “Since 1937 Dad’s Old Fashioned Root Beer,” and the other reads “Have A Dad’s…It’s Delicious.” The first cap is crimped around a circulated 1937 Lincoln cent. When it was made I have no clue, but perhaps it was 1962 or so during the company’s 25th year in business. I’m certain it was well after 1937 owing to the EF and lightly cleaned appearance of the cent in the cap. If they were made in 1937 or thereabouts there would have been no shortage of Mint State 1937 Lincoln cents available for use. The second cap is probably from the mid-1950s, as there is a sparkling mint orange Uncirculated 1953-D cent within. These neat bottle caps are a part of my desktop collection here at work — two velvet trays dotted with plenty of exonumia and enough “regular” coins to keep me happy. And, I’ll end with a confession; I don’t like root beer!
Next time around, I promise, we’ll get an inside look at the coinage of the Nation of Celestial Space.