LODI, Calif. — National Root Beer Float Day is Saturday, Aug. 6, and if you are looking to get mug of America’s number one selling root beer, stop by the A&W in Lodi where the company first started. A&W wasn’t the first to make root beer, but according to Lodi franchise owner Peter Knight, the restaurant did perfect it.
“A&W Root Beer is like a fine wine. It has a lot of roots, berries and barks inside, hence the name 'root beer,'” said Knight.
A&W was founded by Roy Allen on June 20, 1919 with the first mug of root beer served at a homecoming parade for World War I veterans. The drink was a success, so Roy Allen and partner Frank Wright named the beverage A&W Root Beer. A plaque in downtown Lodi marks his first bottle shop.
A few years after opening, Roy Allen would turn A&W into America’s first franchised restaurant chain.
The root beer recipe is closely guarded. Knight has been serving it up since he started working at an A&W in 1973, at age 16.
“The key is first you have to start with a frosted mug,” said Knight.
Today, he owns two A&W stores and is an expert at making root beer floats. In 1999, he set the world record for making the largest one ever.
“There was over 2,500 gallons of root beer and a lot of ice cream,” laughed Knight.
While you slurp down your root beer float, check out Knight's A&W memorial collection. He’s got a lot of rare items like "Rooty the Root Bear" mugs, old menus and lots of historical items.
And here's a fun fact: A&W Chairman Dale Mulder invented the Original Bacon Cheeseburger 1963.
Today, there are more than 1,000 A&W restaurants worldwide serving up root beer, and the best day to get a glass is on National Root Beer Float Day. Head to Lodi for the experience and have a free one.
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