A&W literally returns to its "roots"

Aug. 21, 2017

Under the heading of everything old is new again comes A&W today with the announcement that it's now making its signature  root beer from scratch at its restaurants and no longer using a premixed bag of formula. It's a move that's right on trend with the turn toward beverages that have an interesting story attached, and A&W root beer certainly qualifies.

"Our commitment to serve made-fresh root beer in all of our restaurants signifies a return to our company roots, when our founders Roy Allen and Frank Wright introduced it at a parade honoring World War I veterans," A&W Marketing Vice President Sarah Blasi said in a press release.

The brand made the switch at all 630 U.S. locations this summer; root beer is now made fresh on site daily from water, cane sugar and a "top secret" blend of spices.

"This beverage has been the cornerstone of our brand identity for almost 100 years, and we are proud to once again make it in each restaurant and serve it fresh," Blasi said in the release. "Consumers today clearly prefer fresh, hand-crafted food and beverages. The move to making root beer fresh in each and every one of our locations is a key part of our strategy to continuously improve the quality of everything on our menu."

The move is a sharp one, since the beverage category is on fire across food service. An additional plus is the fact that A&W root beer has a history steeped in Americana. Root beer itself is said by some to have its origins in Native American history.

According to the release, A&W leadership originally made the switch to a bagged concentrate in the early part of this millennium to save cost and space because at that time, "large kettles and paddles were required to make the beverage from scratch, along with constant mixing by staff in stores," the release said.

Actually, it was technology that allowed a return to tradition; A&W found a solution to the super-sized kettle and mixing problem in a new smaller auto-mixer that saves time, labor and money, but still produces the same old-time root beer result.

"Our root beer, like our brand, is iconic, and we want to treat our signature beverage with as much love as we can," Blasi said. "Now that A&W’s root beer is again made fresh in-house in 100 percent of our restaurants, it can rightfully assume its position as an original, all-American craft beverage."

Early in the 20th century, root beer was a hotly contested market in the U.S. among three primary mom-and-pop brands — Hire's, Barq's and A&W — according to the website, Eric's Gourmet Root Beer. With its mix of spices and herbal flavors of sassafras and sarsaparilla, the beverage fits in neatly with au courant spiced drinks such as chai and rooibos.


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