August 6 is National Root Beer Float Day — and that's a big deal when you're A&W, one of America's most famous root beer brands, celebrating 100 years of serving its signature product.
"[Roy Allen] created the recipe, which we still use today," A&W's CEO Kevin Bazner told Cheddar Tuesday, "The same recipe today, 100 years later."
Allen reportedly brought his root beer recipe to life in 1919, serving it at a homecoming parade for World War I veterans. Then he partnered with Frank Wright, using their abbreviations to come up with the name A&W Root Beer.
"That root beer stand eventually evolved into restaurants, which is what we are today," Brazner said.
There are nearly 1,000 A&W restaurants worldwide, with about 600 in the United States. Since it launched, the company marked many firsts in the industry, and has staked the claim to inventing the Original Bacon Cheeseburger in 1963.
"I think the success and longevity over 100 years is really a result of our franchise partners," the CEO noted.
Ringing in their centennial year, the franchise-based company is now dealing with third and fourth generation family members.
"It's families running the businesses, and it's really those families, in mostly smaller rural towns in America, that have kept the brand alive over the years."
Bazner said that first parade at which Allen served his root beer was the inspiration for the company's current fundraising efforts, collectin donations for Disabled American Veterans (DAV). Bazner hopes to hit the $1 million mark this year.
On Tuesday, in honor of National Root Beer Float Day, participating A&W shops across will serve free root beer floats from 2:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.