The Barq's Brothers Bottling Company was founded in 1890 in the French Quarter of New Orleans, by Edward Charles Edmond Barq and his older brother, Gaston. The Barq Brothers bottled carbonated water and various soft drinks of their own creation. Early on, their most popular creation was an orange-flavored soda called Orangine, and in 1893, Ed won a gold medal at the Chicago World's Fair for Orangine.
Edward Barq moved to Biloxi, Mississippi in 1897, and the following year he opened the Biloxi Artesian Bottling Works. In the winter, Ed was employed as a chemist on Louisiana sugar plantations, and in the summer, he would return to Biloxi to bottle Artesian water and experiment with his soda pop flavors. Eighteen ninety-eight is often given as the debut year for what was later to be known as "Barq's root beer", but no one knows for sure.
At some point, Ed Barq also opened a bottling plant in Gulfport, as evidenced by bottles that exist today. Additionally, a partnership was formed with Hardtner's Bottling Works in Gulfport, from bottles that I have seen, but the partnership did not seem to last long as bottles were only marked Barq's & Hardtner for a short time. Sorry, I do not know more, but hope for more information on this Barq's footnote in history someday.
It was on the Mississippi Coast that Edward met and mentored a young boy, Jesse Robinson.
Robinson was mentored by Barq and later moved to New Orleans to find his fortune. In 1934 Edward Barq, Sr. and Robinson signed a contractual agreement on Barq's product rights. The agreement was unique from other franchises in many aspects. For one thing, Robinson was allowed to make his own concentrate. The two men remained close their entire lives, working on flavors and production challenges. A distinctive difference between the Biloxi-based root beer and the Louisiana's was that the Louisiana bottle was printed in red (versus Biloxi's blue). This was to distinguish ownership of bottles as blue labeled ones were returned to Mississippi and vice versa.
Barq's connection to New Orleans starts in the late 1920's - early 1930's. The very first New Orleans Barq bottle to appear was a Prohibition-era Jackson Beverages bottle, with BARQ on the bottom. (see Jackson Beverages page) Then, there was some business connection with Cascade New Orleans, as Siphon Seltzer bottles have been found with Cascade Bottling Works New Orleans Property of J. L. Robinson on the front. (see Cascade New Orleans page) I'm not exactly sure about the details of how everything fell into place the way it did in the early days of Barq's of Louisiana, but I am told that Cascade Bottling Works was founded in 1919, and the Robinson Family changed the name to Barq's Beverages, Inc. in 1946.
In 1931, at the urging of his son, Edward II, Barq was the first to break away from the traditional six and eight-ounce bottles. He convinced the Fabachers, a New Orleans brewery family, to sell him clear 12-ounce bottles that would give “a sense of satisfaction which comes with getting more of a good thing than the price seems to warrant.” The 12-ounce bottle price remained at five cents for many years.
The first franchise came in 1934 with a Mobile, Alabama firm, soon followed by another one in New Orleans, Louisiana. Jesse Robinson operated the New Orleans plant.
The drink’s popularity was unstoppable. By 1937, 62 bottling plants had been established in 22 states.
One of those franchises was given to Richard S. Tuttle, Sr. in Cincinnati, Ohio, who along with Hugh Carmichael and Albert Badanes, founded the Barq Bottling Company. Richard Tuttle added red dye to the amber-colored Barq’s Crème Soda, creating what would soon become popular as “red pop”.
There were regional taste differences between the various Barq's bottlers. While there may have been minor formula differences, the local water supply generally defined these differences.
For many decades, Barq's was not marketed as a "root beer". The slogan was simply "It's Good". This was possibly due to differences from other root beers at the time. The formulation was sarsaparilla-based, contained less sugar, had a higher carbonation, and less of a foamy head than other brands.
The traditional slogan was the simple affirmation "Drink Barq's. It's good" which first appeared on the classic diamond-necked bottle, patented in 1935 by Ed Barq.
The number of franchises peaked in 1950 to about 200.
In 1976, the Biloxi Barq's Company was purchased from the third generation of Barq family members by John Oudt and John Koerner. An aggressive television campaign was developed based on the "Barq's Got Sparks" theme. Their plans to market the brand nationally were complicated by the existence of the Louisiana-based Barq's companies which were owned and operated by Robinson's heirs.
There were extended legal conflicts over the rights and ownership of the trademark Barq's, Barq's Sr. and Barq's Root Beer. The legal battle went all the way to the United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit, which ruled in favor of the Robinson heirs. The last family-held Louisiana Barq's was sold by Robinson's heirs to Coca-Cola in 2000.
Since 1995, Barq's has marketed with the slogan "Barq's has bite!" This slogan has been featured in numerous television advertisements since its inception.
Birthplace of Barq's