A&W Root Beer

Here’s a semi-mystery photo. It was taken at an A&W Root Beer stand, but I’m not sure if it was in Cape or not. It was on the same roll of film as the Barry Goldwater rally in Cairo, but I don’t think Cairo had an A&W.

Cape’s A&W was on the west side of Hwy 61 just before Arena Park. The fellow handing money to the carhop sorta, kinda looks like Lee Dahringer, but I wouldn’t bet the ranch on it.

The A&W wasn’t as popular as Wimpy’s or Pfisters. Maybe there wasn’t as much parking or it wasn’t as easy to get in and out of.

A & W Root Beer founded in 1919

A & W’s website says Roy Allen sold his first frosty mug of root beer in Lodi, Cal., in 1919. It went over so well that he opened a second stand in Sacramento featuring what is believed to be the country’s first drive-in. By 1933, more than 170 franchised outlets were operating in the Midwest and West. By 1950, that had grown to 450. It’s still the world’s top-selling root beer.

31 Replies to “A&W Root Beer”

  1. I sooo agree! Back when I was in college in the early sixties, I had no car, of course, and my husband-then-boyfriend would take me to A&W on a hot day for a cold mug of root beer. Best drink in the world! I was wondering why they don’t taste as good now, but then I realized that we didn’t have air-conditioning, and the root beer was the coldest drink around!

    1. Ms. DeJournett I still remember your English classes at Cape Central. You inspired a love for great literature in me. Your reading of The Scarlet Letter was superb.

  2. One night a week our parents would would take all 5 kids to A & W. get a chili dog and a cold mug. Then before we left. pass them 2 gallon jugs and they would fill them up with frosty rootbeer. It was so good. Made right there on site.

  3. The only thing better then a larg mug of A@W root beer was a take-home gallon which lasted about two fights and five minutes.

  4. i worked at A&W in highschool..this may be when richard ahd girls as curb hops.later he mostly had guys. A&W was part of the phister 500…kids would drive through pister’s then drive through popp’s a and w. i saw in one of the antique stores dowtown old root beer mugs.thee is a place in st.louis named carl’s. it’s on manchester and highschool in brentwood.tehy have frozen mugs and the hambergers start as a round meat ball,the bums are toasted on the grill.great place to stop and eat.they serve? r c root beer i think

  5. Might not have been me, because I am sure I did not go see Barry Goldwater! 🙂 But I share the fond memories of cold root beer. Nothing better in Cape in the summer..

    1. Lee,

      It looks like the photo might have been the last shot on a roll from the Goldwater rally. If it had been in the middle, then I would have said the person had gone along.

      In this case, though, I might have shot the random frame to burn up the roll before processing it. Since the rally was early in the morning, it’s possible that I went back to school, then went out to lunch with some folks. Since the photo was taken from the back seat, and it’s not my car, I had to have been riding with someone else.

      BTW, Shari Stiver sent an email that said “I’m with you – my instant response was Lee Dahringer.” If Shari agrees with me, you KNOW it has to be true.

      For any of you who are struggling to remember what Lee looked like, he was featured here tying one on.

  6. My parents knew the Gastons ( Lloyd, Skipper, sons Bob and Jim), who owned the A& W on kings highway. I remember going in the back door and sitting by the freezer where they kept the mugs. Those frosted mugs made the root beer even better. The Gastons lived in a trailer behind the store in the summer. In the winter they lived in Battle Creek Michigan. My family and I visited them many winters to go skiing, tobogganing. We even went thru the Kellogs cereal plant and got lots of free cereal.

  7. The A & W was right next door to my dad’s shop, General Sign Company on Kings Highway. Gaston was one of the son’s of the owners and was one year older that I, but we played in dirt piles around the area for a couple of years in the summers until it was finally built up. At first they lived in the Trailer behind the A & W and spent the winters in northern Michigan. Ah yes, the best of both worlds…Hot as heck in the summer and cold as heck in the winters. The Family late moved to Cape full time.
    The Popes later bought it…I had my first bacon cheese burger at A & W in Cape with a frosty mug of root beer…sounds good now!

  8. My best memories of A&W are in the Summers, especially the steamy hot Augusts during two-a-day football practices.

    Those were they days when players received NO WATER during practice, and a “hand full of salt pills” when you stepped into the shower. (a perfect recipe for heat stroke! It’s a wonder they didn’t kill us!) Now the little darlings get a Gator Aid break every 15 minutes.

    Anyway, after drinking our shower, car loads of us would make a Bee-Line to A&W right after practice, and order one of those quart “megaphones” of icy root beer to chug all the way home. Of course you were too sick to eat lunch or supper and went straight to bed. No wonder most of us had electrolyte imbalances and were skinny as rails by the time the season started. So my senior year when I was listed in the program at a chubby 154 lbs, I was lucky to weight 140 lbs at the start of the season. What made it worse is my Center Bill “Jacqie” Jackson weighed about the same. I still can’t grow decent toe nails from Jacqie being knocked back on my feet so often.

    Ah….. good times. Thanks Coach Goodie!

  9. I had forgotten about the megaphone containers but still have a baby mug from A&W. I think if you bought the mugs & returned with them you got discounted refill & baby mugs were probably free. Popp’s was still there when Bill & I bought our first new car & around the same time closed on the house we were building in ’76 & still reside. Our loan was at Colonial Federal on Broadway & we ended up stopping for a frosty at A&W along with lunch. I hurriedly figured our budget out with the car & house payments added in on an envelope while we waited for our food. Non-discretionary spending allowed for $5 a month left over, if we were lucky, to spend at our discretion! That mug was a hard mug to swallow for this gal’s mug, there were definitely tears in the beer!!!

    Post sob story: There was a drug store in Red Star that had equally as good frosted mug root beer, that I recall from my young years!

  10. Kenneth Roussel: Canned A&W just don’t cut it, not when you used to be one of those people who mixed up the real thing in the back room, flushed out the lines, checked the carbonation strength, temperature, THEN, went out to the grill and whipped up a double PaPa burger with cheese to go with……..”ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby”, worked at the A&W in Dexter during summer high school vacations, and lovingly remember the A&W at Cape during SEMO years, regards, kkr
    10 minutes ago · LikeUnlike

  11. Hey! Brad is correct in all of the memories except that I had bulked up by the end of the season to a Whooping 162 pounds with the help of half gallon ice cream shakes every day. Moms fried chicken was a big help too. We both got knocked around a lot but having George Arthur and Don Riley on both sides of me was a huge help on all levels.

  12. The CG A&W root beer was fabulous, but one of my memories is how many kids who were driving their parents’ “boats” minus power steering kept backing into the piers that held up the roof. You could hear the scrapes or crunches all summer.

  13. I tried to comment earlier, but I don’t see it on here yet. Brad was so right. Even though I had to bulked up to 162 by the end of the season, we both got knocked around a lot. Half gallon shakes every day made of IGA ice cream and my moms fried chicken helped. I remember being so glad that George Arthur and Don Riley were on each side of me. Denzel “Fat” Slinkard laid the blocks on that building. He lived across the street from me on Perry and Dunklin.

  14. In the background on the menu sign I can see PIG-IN-A.. Obviously PIG-IN-A-BLANKET. Was the PIAB a Cape Girardeau specialty? I have never found PIABs anywhere else. There are the ubiquitous corn dogs, but they just aren’t as good to my taste buds.

  15. “Those were they days when players received NO WATER during practice”. Brad is right about that, though it is hard to believe now. I distinctly remember the coaches telling us that if we needed water, they would tell us!

  16. I contacted one of the Popp family and pig-in-a-blanket was a Cape specialty. I preferred the limeade after two-a-days practice.

  17. all the pigs in a blanket or corn dogs were made from scratch. trust me i made a million of them working for richard.he would alternate corn dogs and coney dogs on tuesdays i believe? half price..OMG!people would buy sacks of them.

  18. We had many a mug of A&W root bear for 5 cents. We then always took a jug home. You always brought the empty jug along, so you wouldn’t be charged the deposit. couldn’t beat an ice cold mug. Later after I started driving I would always go there for a juicy burger. They were really good. also I remember the first A&W was a circle building, that you parked all around it if you could find a parking space. Later there was speakers installed on the back side.

  19. I remember Jim and Bob Gaston as we were in BSA Troop 3 together. Nothing beat the 5 cent frosty root beer! However, during the preseason football practices of 1961 we headed to Sunny Hill for an unsweetened lemonade. You got a half of a cherry aat the bottom of the glass so you stuck the straw in that for a sweetener.

    Now in 2011, we are fortunate to have an old A&W in Wentzville (Mo) called Pete’s. Pete dropped his A&W franchise but you can still get a frosted mug of root beer there. Alas, but it is no longer a nickle!

  20. Good memories of A&W. I remember the “juicy burgers”, similar to sloppy-joes of today. Jane mentioned kids driving their parents “boats” and striking the piers…I have vivid memories of hearing the “crunch” when I drove my Dad’s big Dodge into one of them. My older sister was with me, laughing at me, of course, as I cringed in total embarrassment! Thanks for the website and the memories.

  21. kay..if the last person who posted..j popp…is joe popp? ask him..that or see if you can contact gerald or larry popp. i know they are still living in cape.i worked for richard for a long time. but i can’t remember how they made the sloppy joes?..the root beer was made for gallon jugs of a and w syrup..the bus load of domino sugar and water. then they had orange slush..OMG that was tasty..add cherry syrup it was a hawiian delight..lime syrup it was a green dragon..and the one that i never understood was swamp water..orange slush,root beer and if you added dill pickle slices..those were called lily pads..as god is witness that is the truth..and a & w sold a lot of them! those baby mugs richard sold for 25cents.i used to buy them and give them away. i use a a&w mug now to hold my artifical sweenters in..it’s the newer logo.i am still looking for a big mug with the old logo.back to those frosty mugs..because we would wash them in hot water,then soak them in sanitizing bath then they went into the freezer..every once in awhile when you would reach into that freezer to pull one out..all you got was the handle! they would break off.then then we would have to clean out the box and look for broke glass.i had fun working ..too much fun i should have been thinking of finding a grown up job..LOL and i finally did

  22. I worked at A&W during my summer vacations back in the later 70s… I thought the Popp family was great to hire my sibs and myself for the summer. I remember washing the pots at the end of the day… built up some muscles cleaning the chili pot at the end of the day. At the end of my experience I was making onion rings for the day… made at the restaurant, not out of a box. My eyes would be crying with the sliced onions, but I learned a tip from Louise- the real onion ring maker – always eat the center cut onion rings… they are the sweetest. I always remember her when I make onion ring orders… and the root beer was and is still, the BEST!

  23. I had the A&W Swamp Water in Desoto, Missouri back in the early 60’s. Never found it anywhere else.

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