Saturday, May 4, 2024

The Evolution of Mug Root Beer: A Time-Honored Legacy

Mug Root Beer, a beloved classic among soda aficionados, traces its origins back to 1885 when it was first introduced as Dr. Swett's by the Belfast Beverage Company of San Francisco, California. The Belfast Beverage Company, renowned for its sparkling water and ginger ale since 1877, underwent a series of transformations over the decades.

In 1947, the beverage underwent a name change to Belfast Root Beer, reflecting the company's dedication to its root beer recipe. The pivotal year of 1925 saw the acquisition of Belfast Beverage Company by the New Century Beverage Company, co-founded by local entrepreneur Angelo Campodonico. Under Campodonico's leadership, the soda manufacturing plant relocated to a sprawling facility at 820 Pacific St. in Chinatown in 1927, heralding a period of rapid expansion and innovation.

By 1955, the root beer was rebranded as Belfast Old Fashioned Mug Root Beer, later simplifying to Mug Old Fashioned Root Beer, and ultimately adopting its iconic name, Mug Root Beer. Throughout the 1970s, Mug Root Beer garnered attention for its "true draft taste" through a memorable radio commercial campaign on KFRC.

In a move reflecting changing dietary preferences, the late 1960s witnessed the launch of Sugar Free Mug (now known as Diet Mug Root Beer). Subsequently, Mug Cream Soda and Diet Mug Cream Soda were introduced, although their availability remains more limited.

The Campodonico family remained integral to the operations of New Century Beverage Company until Pepsi-Cola Company acquired the brand in 1986. Pepsi's stewardship injected new energy into Mug Root Beer. In the early 2000s, Pepsi undertook a comprehensive redesign and relaunch of the brand, aiming to infuse it with "personality." After experimenting with various packaging designs, they settled on the distinctive image of a rugged bulldog, symbolizing Mug's robust flavor and heritage.

Despite the brand's evolution, the production of Mug Root Beer retained its ties to San Francisco, operating from a factory at 17th Street and Valencia Street in the Mission district until the early 1990s.

Today, the Mug brand boasts a lineup of four distinct products: Mug Root Beer, Diet Mug Root Beer, Mug Cream Soda, and Diet Mug Cream Soda. These offerings continue to captivate consumers with their timeless taste and enduring legacy, reminding us of the rich history and tradition behind every satisfying sip of Mug Root Beer.
The Evolution of Mug Root Beer: A Time-Honored Legacy

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