Thursday, August 7, 2008

Who's the Real Root Beer King?

One of my favorite summer treats is a root beer float. I love the combination of creamy ice cream and cold, frothy root beer. I especially like to enjoy mine in a Ball canning jar, like the one pictured, left.

Apparently the roots of the root beer float are disputable. While A&W Restaurants have become the most popular purveyor of this refreshing treat, most agree that the ice cream float was created by either Robert M. Green of Philadelphia or Fred Sanders of Detroit.

Green's account, published in Soda Fountain magazine in 1910, states that he created the treat to strum up business at the Franklin Institutes's semi-centennial celebration in 1874. Apparently he was attempting to compete with another vendor who had a bigger and nicer soda fountain. At the event, Green sold vanilla ice cream with 16 different flavors of soda water. The new treat was wildy successful. Take that fancy pants soda foutain man.

Fred Sanders, on the other hand, owned the Pavilion of Sweets shop in Detroit, which first opened in 1875. One night, as the story goes, some customers came in and ordered sweet cream sodas. Sanders' ice delivery hadn't come in that day, so he decided to substitute with ice cream.

So who was first, Green or Sanders? I'm going to go with Sanders, but only because of the Midwest connection. But maybe it doesn't matter. Honestly I'm thankful to both men, who obviously each contributed to the Root Beer Float and it's resulting popularity.

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