Our root beer has a history we're proud of!
"Triple XXX"??.born in a brewery!
1895 - Galveston, Texas: Anheuser-Busch Brewing Association of St. Louis, together with local investors, established The Galveston Brewing Company at 34th and Post Office Streets. The brewery had an annual production capacity of 100,000 barrels of beer which it sold locally under the name "Hi Grade". Interestingly, its keg beer was packaged in steel banded barrels of oak which were marked with "XXX".
A stormy beginning!
1900 - Business was interrupted temporarily when a devastating hurricane hit Galveston Island. The accompanying sea surge swept over the island, and 6,000 lives were lost.
In the aftermath, however, The Galveston Brewing Company was found to be one of the Island's surviving commercial enterprises. While Galveston rebuilt, the brewery resumed production of Hi Grade beer for the local population. In 1903, in order to protect the island from flooding in the event of future hurricanes, the City of Galveston constructed an elevated seawall along its beach front. During the wall's construction, The Galveston Brewing Company added another brand, "Seawall Bond", to commemorate the "invincible" new Galveston seawall. The brewery also started an ice plant which had a daily output of 100 tons of "pure crystal ice", and in 1913 it constructed an adjoining bottling plant with a capacity of 30,000 bottles a day.
Sometime between 1900 and 1908, The Galveston Brewing Company began to produce and sell a line of soft drink syrups which it sold under the brand name "XXX". The company's chemist developed an extensive array of flavors, such as root beer, ginger ale, strawberry, lemon-sour, lemon, orange, chocolate, cream soda, sarsaparilla, cream, grape, and apple-juice. The brand's United States Patent Office registration statement noted that the trademark had been continuously used since at least as early as April, 1908.
When one door is closed, open another!
1916 - The State of Texas acted in advance of the enactment of the 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution (The Prohibition Act of 1918), and ordered the shut down of the state's breweries, including The Galveston Brewing Company. The company's owners re-organized the business, changed its name to Southern Beverage Company, and converted its brewing equipment to producing "XXX" soft drinks, primarily ginger ale and root beer.
1918 - Southern Beverage Company's owners registered an additional trademark, "Triple XXX", for its line of soft drinks. Reflecting on the exuberance of the day, it seems that if "XXX" was good, then "Triple XXX" had to be, as the brand's new slogan proclaimed, "The Aristocrat of Them All"! Southern Beverage Company expanded the brand's horizons. New territories were targeted, and ten "outside" salesmen were employed. Over the next decade, they produced tremendous growth of the brand's sales volume and areas of distribution.
The "Roaring Twenties" provide golden years!
By 1923, Southern Beverage Company's licensed distributors included about 150 Triple XXX bottlers and approximately 100 Triple XXX "Thirst Stations" in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Illinois, Indiana, Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, Canada. A. H. Rutherford & Sons of Renton, Washington, was the brand's largest distributor outside of Texas. The Rutherford family developed a unique "twin barrel" design for Triple XXX root beer restaurants which became popular along the west coast from southern California to Washington. Triple XXX restaurants were also operated in the Vancouver, B.C. area.
1927 - Southern Beverage Company was reorganized into two separate units - Triple XXX Company, which operated as the brand's "parent company", and Triple XXX Bottling Company, which continued as the local soft drink bottling plant. The Triple XXX Company continued to expand the brand's distribution well beyond the Galveston area. In 1928, Triple XXX cola was added to the flavor line. Triple XXX cola was dispensed through barrels and put up in bottles as was Triple XXX root beer. Presumably, this was in recognition of cola as a flavor of increasing popularity, although at that time root beer was still king of all soft drink flavors.
In retrospect, the "Roaring Twenties" marked the glory days for the brand Triple XXX. By 1928, it was reported that Triple XXX Company employed 40 salesmen who covered distribution of Triple XXX soft drinks in 35 states. Even Mississippi steamers were licensed to sell Triple XXX root beer!
They should have stayed with soda, y'know?
1932 - Triple XXX Company, caught in the Great Depression of the 1930's, was reorganized as a new entity with the original brewery's name, Galveston Brewing Company. The following year when as expected, the United States alcoholic beverage "Prohibition Act of 1918" was repealed, the Galveston Brewing Company was combined with the Magnolia Brewery in Houston. The new name selected was Galveston-Houston Breweries, Incorporated, and the combined companies resumed the brewing of beer at the facilities in Galveston and Houston. A new brand, "Southern Select", was produced and sold from the Galveston facility, while the Magnolia Brewery in Houston produced and sold "Magnolia" beer. The Galveston facility still produced Triple XXX root beer extract and other soft drink syrups and flavors for its licensed soft drink bottlers, soda fountains, and Triple XXX "Thirst Stations".
The hard years of the national economic depression followed, and then came the problem of domestic sugar rationing during the World War II years from 1941 to 1945. This most certainly contributed to the resulting thinned ranks of Triple XXX "Thirst Stations" and Triple XXX soft drink bottlers and distributors. Also, the brewery facilities were aging, setting the stage for another ownership change.
Let's let our accountant take a whack at it!
1953 - The owner of Galveston-Houston Breweries, Incorporated, wanted to retire. He agreed to sell the business to his accountant, a long time friend who had survival plans for both the brewery and the Triple XXX brand. The accountant friend incorporated a new company, Stenzel Corporation, to purchase the business, and after the sale the new company's name was changed to Galveston-Houston Breweries, Inc.
Three years later, Galveston-Houston Breweries, Inc. sold the company's Galveston and Houston properties, brewing equipment and brand names to a larger beer company, The Falstaff Brewing Corporation. Ironically, the buyer subsequently discontinued the brands Southern Select and Magnolia, while the soft drink brand Triple XXX, which did not go with the sale, survived.
After this sale, the Triple XXX soft drink business was the primary remaining asset of Galveston-Houston Breweries, Inc., so the company's name was changed to Triple XXX Corporation. Once again, just as in the "Roaring Twenties" the soft drink brand Triple XXX became independent of its brewery roots.
Difficult times and a determined widow.
The deceased owner's widow retained a new management team. With her agreement, the new managers moved the business's operating headquarters to the Wright Dr. Pepper Bottling Company in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, although the corporation's registered office remained in Houston. The new managers set about a vigorous program of calling on independent soft drink bottlers to obtain new franchisees for Triple XXX root beer.
Unfortunately, the new owner died unexpectedly, and the business struggled to survive. It didn't help matters that in the late 1950's consumers were becoming enamored with fast food outlets. More Triple XXX "Thirst Stations" left the scene. In addition, a number of licensed Triple XXX bottlers had been lost through attrition.
Sassafras causes crisis!
Yet another unforeseeable development occurred. In 1960, the United States Food and Drug Administration released a ruling that sassafras (oil of saffron) as a food and beverage ingredient was suspect as a carcinogen. Its use would no longer be permitted in a long list of items which included root beer. Beverage companies were given a "grace period" of one year to reformulate their root beer products.
Triple XXX Corporation's management, with the help of an independent flavor laboratory in New Orleans, was able to retain the "Triple XXX" root beer taste. But without oil of saffron, the traditional foamy head characteristic of draft root beer was pretty much irreplaceable. Eventually, the industry's flavor chemists found alternative ingredients that were close enough to produce the appearance of "draft style" root beer. And most important for fans of Triple XXX root beer, its distinctive creamy root beer taste was preserved.
In 1962, Triple XXX Corporation's management group reported its progress, claiming a franchise roster of 27 soft drink bottlers and fountain syrup distributors. However, for whatever reason, the number of bottlers subsequently declined. By the late 1960's, several concerned Dr. Pepper bottlers who were also long time franchisees for Triple XXX root beer, proposed to the owner of Triple XXX Corporation that new ownership and management was needed in order to preserve the brand.
Dr. Pepper to the rescue!
1969 - The controlling interest shares in Triple XXX Corporation were purchased by the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company of Orange, Texas, and the corporation's headquarters were relocated to Orange, Texas. The brand's new owner assumed a caretaker role to preserve the production and distribution of Triple XXX root beer and flavors for its bottlers and fountain supply distributors.
Although Triple XXX was still regarded in the industry as an excellent old time root beer brand, its market development efforts during this time were limited to serving its existing bottlers and distributors. During 1978, the owners of the Dr. Pepper Bottling Company of Orange sold their Dr. Pepper business to the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Beaumont. The Triple XXX Corporation did not go with the sale, and its owner, wanting to retire, decided to pass the legacy to a new owner. By this time the Triple XXX franchise foster had shrunk to 5 bottlers and 2 fountain drink distributors.
Banking on Coke and Dr. Pepper bottlers for new growth!
1978 - The Lydick Corporation, Houston, Texas purchased the "Triple XXX" related assets, namely its registered trademarks, formulas, and franchises, from the Triple XXX Corporation in Orange. After the sale, the former Triple XXX Corporation (Galveston, Houston, and Orange) surrendered its corporate charter and name, and the Lydick Corporation's name was changed to Triple XXX Corporation, Houston, Texas.
The owner of the new Triple XXX Corporation began an aggressive marketing effort, franchising exclusive territorial distribution rights to the brand to a number of southwestern Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper/Seven-Up bottlers. Packaging and advertising materials were updated to feature the Triple XXX root beer logo in red and yellow over a rich chocolate brown background, with red and yellow bands to highlight the top and bottom of the label. Touching on the brand's appeal of the past, the phrase "Tastes like root beer used to taste" was added to all packaging and promotional materials. This new package design was introduced by Triple XXX Corporation as an exhibitor at the 1979 National Soft Drink Association Exposition in Dallas.
New consumer promotional materials were developed. The three color theme was carried out for merchandising items such as posters, banners, shelf talkers, bottle neck ringers, and table display cards. Television and radio spots were produced and aired in selected markets. Promotional activities varied from market to market, and included dispensing free samples in chain stores, special feature pricing for holidays and weekend promotion periods, as well as distributing price-off coupons in local stores and newspapers. The brand's soft drink distributors also sold Triple XXX root beer from special event trailers at local events in their markets.
Results of the marketing efforts were promising. Present bottlers were retained and a new group of Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper bottlers were franchised. The franchise register grew to 25 bottlers and fountain syrup distributors. Geographically, the brand's packaged drink and fountain drink availability expanded into 7 Central and Southwestern states.
What's a "sea change"?
1980 - The soft drink industry began a dramatic sea change. Faced with generation turnovers and potentially large investments to upgrade production equipment, long time family-owned bottlers began selling their plants to larger neighboring bottlers. As these business combinations occurred, soft drink brand lineups were revised to eliminate flavor duplications. This development resulted in about 20 root beer brands competing for distribution through a declining number of soft drink bottling companies.
The consolidation trend accelerated through the 1980's and into the 1990's. By the mid 1980's, Triple XXX Corporation had to recognize that there were no longer enough available independent soft drink bottlers to continue the brand's packaged root beer distribution through traditional direct store delivery channels. Although production of bottled and canned Triple XXX root beer was suspended in 1985, fountain drink distribution continued through soda fountains and restaurants.
Where have all the bottlers gone?
1990 - Over the previous decade, the number of independently owned soft drink bottlers declined through mergers and acquisitions to the point that by the 1990's, nearly all distribution territories in the United States were served by only three major brand soft drink bottlers, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Cola and Dr. Pepper/Seven-Up. Also, each major Cola brand's "parent" franchise company either purchased or developed its own root beer brand, and its franchisees for the most part distribute only that brand in their territories. That left the remaining independent root beer brands searching for viable alternate routes to market, quite a challenge!
What an exciting century!
2000 - Triple XXX root beer is still one of the great old time root beer brands, and its limited availability continues to generate frequent consumer inquiries and requests. At the present time Triple XXX is sold only through restaurants and food outlets as a fountain root beer. It is not currently available in bottles and cans, although this could change. Consumer's still thirst for the brand and all it needs is a viable route to market!
A great taste from Texas!
"Triple XXX" is now featured in the Dr. Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute in Waco, Texas as an historic Texas based soft drink brand. Its long and colorful heritage began a century ago, and it continues into the new millennium!
"Triple XXX" root beer tastes like root beer used to taste!