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A&W All-American Food

Back of the Menu A&W Restaurant

A&W Restaurant famous for their root beer (pc-awfranchising.com)

Before we can talk about A&W, can we first discuss root beer, the signature item of the chain that dates back to the colonists? Root beer is made of 16 roots and herbs with the most original ingredient being sassafras. The colonists are credited for coming up with the first root beer drink and derived the term from “small beers” (birch beer, sarsparilla beer, ginger beer, and root beer) some of which had alcohol and some not. Ingredients for root beer used by the colonists included allspice, birch bark, coriander, juniper, ginger, wintergreen, hops, burdock root, dandelion root, spikenard, pipsissewa, guaiacum chips, sarsaparilla, spicewood, wild cherry bark, yellow dock, prickly ash bark, sassafras root, vanilla beans, hops, dog grass, molasses and licorice.  In 1960, sassafras came to be known as a carcinogen (a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissue) and was banned by the USDA. Later, a method was found to remove the oil from sassafras, the cause of the carcinogen, and sassafras continues to be the main ingredient in root beer. (source) (source)

Fast forward to 1876 and a man by the name of Charles Hires. Hires was born in 1851 in New Jersey to a Quaker family. At the age of 16, they moved to Philidelphia where Hires went to work at a drugstore owned by his family. After saving $400, he opened a drugstore of his own. It was on his honeymoon in New Jersey that the hotel manager, served Hires and his new bride a special herbal tea known as “root tea.” Hires loved the drink and brought home to his pharmacy combining it with carbonated soda stamping his name on root beer history. A friend of his, Russell Conwell, who went on to found Temple University, suggested Hires name the drink Root Beer so to appeal more to the working class. Hires first sold the product as a powder to housewives and soda fountain owners where they would need to add water, sugar, and yeast. It was at the U.S. Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 where Hires introduced the drink, and it became so popular in mass. Hires would go on to open a factory to make the beverage at 117-119 Arch Street in Philadelphia. (source)

Six years after the Exposition in Philadelphia, a man by the name of Roy Allen was born in Illinois and later moved west with his career in the hotel industry. While living and in Arizona, Allen met a retired chemist in Flagstaff who told him he had perfected a perfect mix for root beer. Allen was able to get the recipe from the gentleman, but there is no record if he purchased it or not.  Allen would later take the (secret) recipe and move with his wife and daughter to Lodi, California. On June 4, 1919, Allen capitalized on a homecoming parade for WWI veterans. At 13 W. Pine Street in Lodi that day, Allen set-up a stand in-between the Lodi Arch and Church Street (he lived at 17 1/2 W. Pine St) to give away his now famous root beer on a hot June day in California. A few days later, Allen set-up a more prominent stand and sold his ice-cold root beer for $.05 each. It may have been free on June 4, but that is the official company birthday recognized today by A&W. Luck was on Allen’s side as well during that summer as prohibition also going into effect in 1919 giving folks in California a viable substitute. (source)

By 1922, Allen had root beer stands in Stockton and Sacramento. During 1922, Allen partnered with one of his employees, Frank Wright and the soda and restaurant we know today was born. A(Allen) & W(Wright) Root Beer. They continued to focus on expansion, opening stores in Texas as well as California. They also did something else during this time that would become historical in opening the first “drive-in” restaurant in Sacramento at 16th and K streets hiring “tray-boys” and “tray-girls” to take the frosty beverages to thirsty drivers. The partnership only lasted for a couple of years, and Allen bought out Wright in 1924 but kept the name A&W and continued to open stores in various locations. During the Great Depression, Allen added food to his menu to help compensate with slower sales. With 450 locations at the time, Allen sold the company in 1950 to Gene Hurtz. (source)

But what about the Root Beer Float? Completely different story. The root beer float, also known as the “Black Cow” dates back to August of 1893 to a Colorado mining camp to a gentleman by the name of Frank Wisner of Cripple Creek, Colorado. Wisner owned the Cripple Creek Cow Mountain Gold Mining Company. One night, while looking at the full moon shining on the snow-covered Cow Mountain, he was reminded of a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an idea was born. Wisner returned to his bar and added a spoonful of vanilla ice cream to the most popular fountain soda drink with children, Myers Avenue Root Beer. Wisner called the drink “Black Cow Mountain” but over time the children shortened it to simply “Black Cow.” The rest they say is history. (source)

General Restaurant Information

Food Type: Hamburgers

Restaurant Type: Fast Food

U.S. Locations: 632

States: 48 states, A&W Locations

Company Slogan: Bring Home The Rootbeer

Contact Information

Website: awrestaurants.com

Questions: Contact Information

Phone number: 859-219-0019

Email: Contact Form Only

Blog: A&W Blog

FAQ Page: No

Ownership

Who Owns A&W? A Great American Brand

Headquartered: Lexington, KY

Contact Information: 

Website: awrestaurants.com

Email/contact page: Contact Page

Phone: (859) 219-0019

Address: 1648 McGrathiana Pkwy Ste 380, Lexington KY 40511

Do They Franchise? Franchise Information

 

What Is It Like To Work At A&W?

A&W Employment Page (A&W.com)

3.6/5 or 72%; 2,100 Reviews (indeed.com)

2.7/5, or 54%; 193 Reviews (glassdoor.com)

 

The original A&W Restaurant Back of the Menu

The Original A&W was located at 13 West Pine Street and opened on June 20, 1919 (pc-themysteryworld.com)

The History of A&W

Original Location: 13 West Pine Street, Lodi, California;

Founded:  June 20, 1919

Founded By: Roy Allen, Frank Wright

Biography Articles:

A&W Restaurant History! (aw-drivein.com)

Roy W. Allen (wikiwand.com)

Roy W Allen (wikivisually.com)

In 1922 Roy Alan And Frank Wright Began Producing A&W Root Beer (southfloridareporter.com)

Founder Obituary:

Obituaries:

Roy W Allen (findagrave.com)

Historic A&W Restaurant Back of the Menu

An old A&W restaurant (pc-awrootbeer.com)

Name Origin: First letter of founder’s surnames (Allen & Wright)

A&W History Page: A&W History Page

Current View of Original Location: 13 West Pine Street as it is today (link may not work on mobile devices without Google Maps)

Historical Articles: 

It All Started with A Roadside Stand: The ‘Roots’ of A&W Restaurants (awrestaurants.com)

Behind the Wine: A&W Root Beer (visitlodi.com)

The Classic American Soft Drink Got Its Start In The City Of Lodi (recordnet.com)

It All Started with A Roadside Stand: The ‘Roots’ of A&W Restaurants (awrestaurants.com)

A&W History (awfranchising.com)

14 Things You Didn’t Know About A&W Restaurants (thrillist.com)

Company History (aw.ca)

Birthplace of A&W Root Beer in Lodi (californiathroughmylens.com)

Chronology of A & W Root Beer (kpolsson.com)

The History Of The A & W Drive-In (viralmemories.com)

A&W Root Beer first poured in Lodi in 1919 (lodinews.com)

The History of Root Beer (theinvenors.org)

Charles Elmer Hires (wikiwand.com)

Myers Avenue Red Root Beer (therootbeerstore.com)

 

Back of the Menu A&W

An updated version of the original A&W which was located on West Pine Street in Lodi, California and opened June 20, 1919

Social Awareness

Charity Focus: Multiple Sclerosis (Canada) – No U.S. resources found

Green | Eco-Friendly: Taking Big Steps to Leave a Small Footprint (Canada) (aw.ca)

Animal Cruelty: 

A&W Animal Welfare (Canada) (awguarantee.ca)

The Best and Worst Burger Chains Ranked by PETA (Canada gets an ‘A’) (peta.org)

Canada Is Going Vegan, and Animals Are Winning (peta.org)

Try These Vegan Fast-Food and Chain-Restaurant Options on the Go (peta.org)

Beyond Burger Outselling “Grass-Fed” Beef Burger by 40 Percent at Luna Grill (mercyforanimals.org)

Ranchers have a beef with new A&W hamburger campaign (cbc.ca)

 

Discounts At A&W

Listed below are the resources that were available at the time of this posting. For a better understanding of how restaurant discounts work and why they can be so darn inconsistent; check out In the world of restaurant discounts: What you need to know.

Rewards Program: A&W Reward Program 

Please use this link to find A&W’s locations so that you can call your local store to inquire. 

Do Kids Eat Free at A&W?

Summary: At this time A&W does not offer a kids eat free promotion.

Here are a few great Kids Eat Free resources for you to bookmark –

Happy Money Saver: Kids Eat Free List (sorted alpha)

Passionate Penny Pincher: Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free (sorted by day of the week)

Penny Pinchin’ Mom: Kids Eat Free List (sorted by day of the week)

Money Saving Mom: Kids Eat Free, The Master List (sorted alpha)

Does A&W Offer Military Discounts?

Summary: No resources were found as it relates to Military Discounts at A&W

Here are a few great Military Discounts for you to bookmark –

These 20 restaurants have the best military discounts (milspousefest.com)

Veteran’s Day Free Meals and Restaurant Deals and Discounts (military.com)

Military Discounts Offered By Stores, Services and Online Sites (militarybenefits.info)

Veteran and Military Deals & Discounts (militaryconnection.com)

Veteran’s Day Free Meals & Discounts – Over 100 Free Meals (themilitarywallet.com)

What Does A&W offer for My Birthday!?

Summary: When you join A&W’s Mug Club (their reward program), they currently offering the following for you to enjoy on your birthday –

When you join the A&W Mug Club, not only will you receive a FREE A&W Root Beer Float on your birthday, but we’ll also send exclusive coupons and offers each month.

In addition, here are a couple of sites that will help you enjoy your next birthday!

100+ Instant Free Restaurant Meals – Just Sign Up! (birthdaycandle.com)

Restaurant Birthday Freebies (heyitsfree.net)

101+ Restaurants with Free Food on Your Birthday (wallethacks.com)

Does A&W Offer First Responder Discounts?

SummaryNo resources were found related to A&W and first responder discounts.

There aren’t many out there, but here are a few great First Responder Discounts for you to bookmark –

Restaurant & Food Discounts for Law Enforcement, Firefighters, EMS, EMTs & First Responders (badgeddiscounts.com)

100+ Discounts for Firefighters and First Responders (bradsdeals.com)

95+ First Responder Discounts (offers.com)

Does A&W Offer Senior Citizen | AARP Discounts?

Summary: The following resources were found as it relates to Senior Citizen (AARP) discounts – 

“All American Food: 10% Senior discount varies by location” (theseniorlist.com)

“10 percent discount, the amount may vary by location” (aarp.org)

“Select A&W Restaurants offer a 10 percent senior discount, though the discount amount may vary by location.” (money.usnews.com)

“A 10% senior discount is available. Varies by location” (clark.com)

If you are 50 or older, there may be a restaurant (and other retail locations) that you can take advantage of. Here are a few resources to refer to –

Senior Citizen Discounts by State (seniorcitizendiscountlist.org)

List of Senior Discounts On Restaurants (theseniorlist.com)

Amazing Dining Deals (aarp.com)

Restaurant Senior Discounts: Where to Dine Out for Less at 50+ (after55.com)

40 Restaurants That Offer Senior Discounts (wisebread.com)

Are There Any Other Discounts or Benefits at A&W?

Summary: A&W currently offers their Mug Club Loyalty Program which provides several ongoing benefits. Check their page for current information and promotions. Also, make sure and check out our Rewards Program Page for links to all restaurants featured on Back of the Menu.

Food at A&W Restaurant Back of the Menu

A&W (pc-straitstimes.com)

Amenities

Order Online: No

WiFi Available: Yes

Use Apple Pay: No  

Reservations: No  

Catering: No

Drive-Thru: Yes 

Open 24 Hours: No  

Customer Reviews of A&W

Yelp: 3.0/5 or 60%, 419 reviews sampled

Tripadvisor: 3.8/5 or 77%, 690 reviews sampled

Overall (weighted) Average: 3.52/5 or 70%, 1,109 reviews sampled

 

A&W & Related Items on Amazon

Smokin’ with Myron Mixon
Smokin’ with Myron Mixon
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto
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Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling
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Weston Hamburger Patty Paper
Weston Hamburger Patty Paper
Electric Meat Grinder
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Gourmia Electric Meat Grinder
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Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
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Eat What You Watch: A Cookbook for Movie Lovers
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Weber’s Big Book of Burgers
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Drinkmate Beverage Carbonation Maker
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Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
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In Defense of Food
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Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side Of The All-American Meal
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New Star Foodservice Commercial Grade French Fry Cutter
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Weston Restaurant Quality French Fry Cutter
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The Pampered Chef Mix N Chop
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Weston Burger Express Hamburger Press with Patty Ejector
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Weber Gourmet Burger Seasoning – 2 Pack
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Hamburger America
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The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers
The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers
GWHOLE Non-Stick Burger Press Aluminum Hamburger Patty Maker
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Lodge 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Hamilton Beach Electric Smokeless Indoor Grill & Searing Grill
Hamilton Beach Electric Smokeless Indoor Grill & Searing Grill
Grillaholics Stuffed Burger Press and Recipe eBook
Grillaholics Stuffed Burger Press and Recipe eBook
Great American Burger Book
Great American Burger Book

Food & Nutrition

Menu:  A&W Menu

Kids Menu:  A&W Kids Menu

Most Popular Menu Item: Root Beer Float

Coke or Pepsi: Root beer 🙂

Serve Alcohol: No

Nutritional Information: A&W Nutrition Guide

Vegetarian | Vegan Options: 

A&W Adds Vegan Beyond Burger to 925 Locations (vegnews.com)

Major Fast Food Chain A&W to Launch Vegan Beyond Burgers Across Canada (livekindly.com)

A&W’S Vegan Beyond Burger May Be Coming To U.S. Locations (livekindly.co)

Review: Vegan Beyond Burger From A&W Canada (ilovevegan.com)

Additional Resources:

 Vegan Options At Popular Fast Food Chains (onegreenplanet.org)

Here’s How to Eat Vegan at Your Favorite Chain Restaurants (chooseveg.com)

Eating Vegan at National Restaurant Chains (insteading.com)

Your Best Vegan Option at 35 Popular Restaurants (eatthis.com)

Try These Vegan Fast Food and Chain Restaurant Options on the Go (peta.org)

Clean Eating (farm to table, organic options, non-GMO, etc):  

Not All Ingredients Are Created Equal (aw.ca)

Miscellaneous Nutrition Resources: 

Your Survival Guide for 20 Fast Food Joints (#16) (eatthis.com)

I Tried A&W’s Beyond Meat Vegetarian Burger (spoonuniversity.com)

A&W All-American Food Nutritional Information (fatsecret.com), (fastfoodmenunutrition.com)

A&W Menu Ingredient Statement (awrestaurants.com)

What Dietitians Would Eat At A&W (huffingtonpost.ca)

Allergy Information

Allergen Information: A&W Allergen Guide

Gluten Free Options: 

A&W Allergen & Sensitives Guide (awrestaurants.com)

A&W Gluten-Free Menu (urbantastebud.com)

32 Best Gluten Free Burger Joints You Must Experience at Least Once (#1) (urbantastebud.com)

Dairy Free Options: 

Dairy Free Options at A&W Restaurants (godairyfree.org)

Restaurant Guide For Dairy-Free Dining (godairyfree.org)

Peanut Free Options: 

A&W Peanut & Allergy Information (awrestaurants.com)

Food Allergy Guides For Many Chain Restaurants (verywellhealth.com)

Ways to Eliminate Risks of Peanut Allergy When Dining Out (healthguidance.org)

Back of the Menu A&W Interior

A&W Interior (pc-awfranchising.com)

Does A&W Have Any Secret Recipes?

A&W Secret Recipes:  

A&W Root Beer (topsecretrecipes.com), (geniuskitchen.com)

Cream Soda (topsecretrecipes.com)

Chili Dog (geniuskitchen.com)

A&W All-American Food Recipes (allrestaurantrecipes.com)

 

 

Did You Know?

Fun Facts: 

A&W Root Beer is the world’s number one selling root beer. (source)

A&W is credited for creating the country’s first drive-in restaurant in 1923 which was located in Sacramento, CA. (source)

The first root beer float, called “Black Cow Mountain” was created in August 1893 in Cripple Creek, CO. (source)

Root beer accounts for 3% of America’s soft drink market (source)

One of A&W’s Michigan franchise owners, Dale Mulder, invented the bacon cheeseburger in 1963 after noticing many of his customers ordering a side of bacon for their cheeseburger. (source)

By the 1970s, the chain had more locations than McDonald’s. (source)

The company has changed ownership a dozen times since Allen sold it in 1950. The most recent being Yum! which owns Pizza Hut, KFC, Taco Bell and more. During Yum!’s ownership, the company sold root beer that was brought in bags and put in the mix machines, just like everything else. Now, under the ownership of a collection of franchises, A&W is 100% back to making its root beer in-stores from the original 1919 recipe. No preservatives allowed. (source)

Second or third generation owners run many A&W franchises, approximately 30%. (source)

The chain is known for their collector mugs as well as their root beer. (source)

Under the franchisee’s ownership starting in 2011, A&W is going back to the way things used to be in an excellent way. Their hot dogs and hamburgers are 100% beef, and they are committed to fresh and clean ingredients with the goal of becoming a cook-to-order food service. (source)

It wasn’t until 1971 that you could purchase A&W Root Beer in a can or bottle. (source)

 

Interesting Articles:

A&W Is Making a Comeback, With 20 New Stores Opening in the U.S. (spoonuniversity.com)

A&W Returns to Growth (nrn.com)

Why Root Beer and Burger Chain A&W Is Planning a Comeback (eater.com)

14 Things You Didn’t Know About A&W (thrillist.com)

A&W literally returns to its “roots” (qsrweb.com)

A&W: A Solid Investment Even Without Added Antibiotics Or Hormones (seekingalpha.com)

Why is A&W Called A&W (rewindandcapture.com)

A&W (roadarch.com)

A&W & Related Items on Amazon

Smokin’ with Myron Mixon
Smokin’ with Myron Mixon
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto
Franklin Barbecue: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto
Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling
Meathead: The Science of Great Barbecue and Grilling
Weston Hamburger Patty Paper
Weston Hamburger Patty Paper
Electric Meat Grinder
Electric Meat Grinder
Gourmia Electric Meat Grinder
Gourmia Electric Meat Grinder
Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
Cuisinart GR-4N 5-in-1 Griddler
Eat What You Watch: A Cookbook for Movie Lovers
Eat What You Watch: A Cookbook for Movie Lovers
Weber’s Big Book of Burgers
Weber’s Big Book of Burgers
Drinkmate Beverage Carbonation Maker
Drinkmate Beverage Carbonation Maker
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us
In Defense of Food
In Defense of Food
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side Of The All-American Meal
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side Of The All-American Meal
New Star Foodservice Commercial Grade French Fry Cutter
New Star Foodservice Commercial Grade French Fry Cutter
Weston Restaurant Quality French Fry Cutter
Weston Restaurant Quality French Fry Cutter
The Pampered Chef Mix N Chop
The Pampered Chef Mix N Chop
Weston Burger Express Hamburger Press with Patty Ejector
Weston Burger Express Hamburger Press with Patty Ejector
Weber Gourmet Burger Seasoning – 2 Pack
Weber Gourmet Burger Seasoning – 2 Pack
Hamburger America
Hamburger America
The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers
The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book: Real Recipes for Joke Burgers
GWHOLE Non-Stick Burger Press Aluminum Hamburger Patty Maker
GWHOLE Non-Stick Burger Press Aluminum Hamburger Patty Maker
Lodge 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Lodge 10.25 Inch Cast Iron Skillet
Hamilton Beach Electric Smokeless Indoor Grill & Searing Grill
Hamilton Beach Electric Smokeless Indoor Grill & Searing Grill
Grillaholics Stuffed Burger Press and Recipe eBook
Grillaholics Stuffed Burger Press and Recipe eBook
Great American Burger Book
Great American Burger Book

A&W on Social Media

Followers (as of October 2018) –  

Facebook: 349,858

Twitter: 42,300

Instagram: 17,7,000

A&W Mobile Apps

Alternatives

Food Type: Culvers, In-N-Out, Red Robin, Steak ‘n Shake, White Castle

Restaurant Type: Auntie Anne’s, Biggby Coffee, Bruster’s Ice Cream, Captain D’s, Dunkin DonutsMenchie’s Frozen Yogurt, Pizza Hut, Zaxby’s

For an alphabetical listing of all our restaurants, simply go to our Restaurants Page.

In Summary

I have never been to an A&W restaurant before. There weren’t any around my area growing up, and the closest one now is 45 minutes away, but I am interested in going after my research and this, their 100th birthday, would be the year to do it.

My first takeaway was the fact that a group of franchisees now owns the company and are trying to get back to their original roots with the way they make their root beer, cook to order, less (no) preservatives and toxins and getting as far away from the Yum! (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut) giant that did own them cheapening the food and drink.

My second takeaway was probably the history nerd in me, and I love that we are beginning to have restaurants in America that are 100 years old. A&W was one of my favorite restaurants to research in that you had both the history of root beer itself paralleled with the history of the company as well as the famous root beer float. So often we go through life, so busy and blinded by all the noise that we fail to stop and think about things like “where did root beer come from”? Maybe you don’t care about root beer, and I get that, but understanding who we are has a lot to do with where we came from. Recently, my oldest child and I watched the two seasons of How The States Get Their Shapes, and we both loved it. Who knew? Whether I like root beer or not, there is something about seeing it or hearing the name and having a better, much more profound, understanding of what it is and how it came about. Maybe if we applied that to other areas of life, we would be much better Americans. I know I could.

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