The Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi presents the

Great American Root Beer Showdown

A Root Beer Emergency at Dawn

Just before Thanksgiving, I received a call from the assistant to the owner of Roadside Beverages, makers of Root 66 Root Beer. She had received instructions that she was to call me and tell me to remove the reference to their product from our review of Route 66 Root Beer.

I'm not sure why this issue required an urgent call to my home phone at 7:30am (and have no idea how they got my number, or why they called to wake my mother while searching for my phone number), especially when it is so easy to send an e-mail message from these web pages.

Apparently the reference to the competing root beer brand was of such an inappropriate nature that direct action was required, the sort of direct action impossible through impersonal e-mail correspondence.There must be some serious mistrust between these rival brands to cause such impassioned behavior.

Jealous Progeny of the Mother Road

Just what was the misleading reference in our original review? When I first summarized the reviewer comments in the original review of "Route 66 Beer," it was not clear to me that these were two distinct brands of root beer. I'd heard of Root 66 Root Beer before, but had never been able to find any in the Chicago area. I mentioned the confusing identity of the brand in the review and included a link to the Root 66 website in the Route 66 review. How could there be two distinct brands of root beer with such similar names? I assumed that they must be the same, just that one of them must be an older version of labelling than the other.

Do not make the same mistake! These are indeed two separate root beer brands from two separate and unrelated manufacturers:

Root 66 Root Beer

Bottled by:

Roadside Beverage, LLC
Gordonsville, VA
(540) 832-7442



"Get Your Lips on Root 66 Root Beer"

Distance to U.S. Highway 66:

748 miles

Route 66 Beer Root Beer

Bottled by:

Route 66 Soda & Bottling
Indian Head Park, IL 60525
(708) 784-0216

Website: none


"Get Your Kicks With Route 66 Beer"

Distance to U.S. Highway 66:

0 miles (Joliet Road/Old Route 66
passes through Indian Head Park)

It seems that "Root 66" has the larger advertising budget. Though not distributed in stores nationwide, they advertise in national magazines and are available through mail-order distributors. At this point, due to the limited regional distribution of both brands, they probably don't compete against one another directly in stores.

But there still is a bit of a mystery here. Why are two root beer brands laying claim to the same Mother Road? Which one is the first-born and can claim the true inheritance of the spirit of Route 66? And forgive my geographic prejudice again, but how can a bottler in Virginia claim a connection to a road which winds from Chicago to Los Angeles, never coming within hundreds of miles of Virginia?

The Roadside Beverage company was kind enough to send us a sample pack of Root 66, so we can finally enter it into our taste test. Now at last there is no confusion. We can let both Root 66 and Route 66 Beer take their own separate places on our review page.

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Copyright 2001 Matt Bergstrom. Text Copyright Matt Bergstrom