Happy National Root Beer Float Day! We can’t think of anyone better to enjoy this holiday with than the legendary Rooty, also known as the Great Root Bear at A&W Restaurants. Mix yourself a frosty cold root beer float and join us for a look back at this spokesbear’s life and times. (And we’ll try not to get the “beer” and “bear” spellings too mixed up…)
In 1919, an entrepreneur named Roy Allen created and sold the first batch of root beer from a stand in Lodi, California. The ingredients in the root beer recipe still remain a bit of a secret, but we know this much for sure: a mixed blend of spices, berries, herbs, and barks can be found inside every serving. In 1922, Allen opened up another root beer stand in Sacramento, California where a partner named Frank Wright joined him. The duo combined their initials and officially named the company “A&W Root Beer.” Business boomed and eventually the root beer stands turned into restaurants that offered up everything from classic burgers (Papa Style) to Coney Cheese Dogs on their menus.
52 years later, Rooty would make his debut as A&W’s life-size Great Root Bear on June 19, 1974. Rooty was considered to be the brand’s goodwill ambassador and wore a knitted orange sweater with an orange beret on top of his head.
Everywhere that Rooty went, a tuba-infused jingle known as “Ba-Dum, Ba-Dum” followed him. Commercial spots in Canada and the United States during the 1970s revealed that if you followed the Great Root Bear, he would merrily lead you to an A&W restaurant location.
From the 1970s on to today, Rooty has proven to be a hit with adults and kids and built up countless lasting friendships — many of which have gotten their start via social media!
You can find him on Instagram participating in on events on Red Nose Day, tweeting breaking news about mug design contests and where you can find free floats for National Root Beer Day on Twitter, and hanging out on Rooty’s Corner on the A&W Restaurants site where he needs your help in burping the alphabet on his app (yes, that’s a real and totally awesome thing) and has an activity book ready for you to download and color in with all your orange crayons.