Root beer float in plastic cup with straw beside Sparkling CBD Root Beer can

Why Is It Called Root Beer?

According to food historians, beverages similar to root beer known as “small beers” predated the soft drink’s origin. Like Charles Hines’ first recipe for root beer, they contained a mixture of herbs, berries and bark. Small beer was a staple in medieval Europe, where water pollution was a rampant and ongoing issue. There was no clear way to determine the safety of drinking water in those days, so with every sip, ancient citizens risked illness. Brewing beverages offered a safe way to eliminate pathogens, so tea and beer were both considered safer and healthier alternatives to plain old H2O. Though Hines’ root beer was non-alcoholic, small beers generally contained between two percent and twelve percent alcohol. These were so common that they’re referenced by many literary greats of the era from William Thackery to William Shakespeare.

Businesses Started With Root Beer

We owe credit to root beer for the founding of several of today’s best-known companies, including Marriott Hotels. Washington state couple John and Alice Mariott started a root beer restaurant in 1927 called the Hot Shoppe. Their original soda shoppe was purchased from A&W, which has also expanded to widespread success in the century since its founding. The Marriotts’ mom-and-pop endeavour proved to be a huge success, with the gradual expansion to restaurants all over the nation which evolved into the Marriott Hotel chain. Sonic also got its start selling exclusively hamburgers and root beers, and eventually expanding to more than 3,500 American locations.

Sticking to its Roots

Root beer was originally made in the United States and beloved here ever since. However, other countries haven’t seen quite the same levels of popularity. Brands of root beer sold abroad are much more rare than the range of options sold in America. Those flavors that are available abroad are notably different in composition and taste from the classic flavor Americans have come to know and love. Outside of North America, ginger beer is a much more common beverage option.

Hundreds of recipes for root beer are available for sale in the United States today. While the general flavor remains pretty consistent from brand to brand, variations of individual ingredients are fairly common. Root beers may include cherry tree bark, anise, licorice root, cinnamon, and even molasses. Colorado’s Best Drinks’ delicious root beer flavor includes the highest quality extracts of sassafras, vanilla, birch, and just a hint of wintergreen.

Early to Bed, Early to...Booze?

Benjamin Franklin left a legacy of wisdom and revolutionary innovation, including the discovery of electricity in his famous experiment flying his kite in a thunderstorm. Franklin once famously quipped “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” As such, some may find it surprising that Franklin stated in his autobiography that he’d regularly enjoy a small beer - similar to an alcoholic root beer - with breakfast. We’re not here to judge Benjamin Franklin (though we don’t recommend risking electrocution in a rainstorm). As we mentioned earlier, small beers and teas were a popular choice in Medieval Europe and remained prevalent as a safe alternative to water before the days of safe, clean running water in every home.

The Very First Float

Colorado’s Best Drinks got its start in Denver, CO where all seven of our beverage flavors are made to this day. Like our delicious sodas and sparkling water options, root beer floats were originally crafted right here in the Rocky Mountains! Creator Frank J. Wisner owned the Cripple Creek Cow Mountain Gold Mining Company in the mountain town of Cripple Creek, Colorado. As the story goes, late one night, Wisner stared out his window lost in thoughts of his company’s soda water line. The bright, full moon above nearby Cow Mountain reminded Milner of a vanilla ice cream scoop - prompting a delicious innovation. Milner rushed to his bar and scooped some ice cream into Myers Avenue Red Root Beer, his best-selling soda flavor. Milner served up the delectable blend the following day, and his customers couldn’t get enough. He dubbed the drink “Black Cow Mountain” as a nod to its origin story. As the drink gained popularity, it became more commonly known as “Black Cow.” The blend is now known as a root beer float. Its basic components remain unchanged, with many spin-offs including complementary flavors or an alcoholic twist. Nearly two centuries later, the root beer float is still savored as a delectable treat for kids (and adults) of all ages.

Raise a Glass to Sparkling CBD Root Beer!

Don't let social distancing stop you from enjoying your favorite sparkling waters and soda flavors. If you order a twelve-pack or a forty-eight pack of Sparkling CBD Root Beer today, we'll bring a case straight to your doorstep to safely savor from the comfort of your couch. All five flavors of our hemp CBD sodas (and our two flavored Sparkling CBD water options) are delicious and refreshing. Our products all contain phytocannabinoid-rich, broad spectrum hemp extract. Better yet, all five sparkling CBD soda flavors - as well as Sparkling CBD Citrus Water and Hibiscus Water - are naturally vegan, non-GMO, and free of gluten, sodium, and preservatives. PCR hemp extract is one of just five ingredients in every can of Colorado's Best Drinks, and you’ll taste that sweet simplicity with every sip.

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