History and Culture

Bawls is in many ways the perfect example of what an energy drink should be. It gets kick from guarana and has a high amount of caffeine, as well as a sleek bottle design (complete with little grips so that you can hang on to it better no matter what you’re doing) and an edgy name. It was quite ahead of the curve, being introduced in the 90’s before energy drinks really took hold in the US. There’s a lot of variety, and the named don’t keep you guessing as to what kind of flavor you’ll get (unlike Monster).

Marketing is geared toward participants in “extreme” and non-traditional athletics as well as young adults in urban areas.


The Cherry flavor is the most common and easiest to find. There’s a sweeter version called Bawls EXXTRA that seems to be the only version of the drink that some stores carry (the caffeine content is similar to other energy drinks). A root beer version was available at one point but I’ve never found it nor tried it.

If you look around enough you’ll find Bawls Mints, which I have to say are not very good at all. To each his own though.

In some paintball complexes there’s a bottle variation called “PaintBAWLS.”


Going out of Business?

Rumors abound about Bawls going out of business, spurred on by the lack of product in stores and the huge clearance sales on Bawls merchandise. At this point all we’re certain about is yes. Bawls was in trouble and there’s been a significant change in management and ownership. Accoding to buzz online, they’ve got quite a few unpaid bills out there … but like many fans have said, the company had better make a recovery because they “just can’t live without their bawls.”


The History:

People have been enjoying Barq’s for over a century. Barq’s root beer started the way any good root beer starts, with a bunch of brothers swishing and gassing around ingredients in a basement. They simply called it “Barq’s” because of the legal gray area of calling anything “root beer”, which was apparently trademarked.

Many decades later, now 70 years old, Barq’s root beer was purchased by outsiders and they began marketing the drink heavily. Apparently the business deal that gave control of Barq’s to these outsiders wasn’t solid enough, and more legal complications arose. Things got to the point where different arms of the company were using slightly different ingredients.

Always eager to bring some structure to potentially profitable drinks, the Coca Cola company stepped in and acquired Barq’s. Now streamlined, widely available, and consistently marketed, Barq’s has secured its place in the marketplace.

Taste Test:

I was lucky enough to get my hands on one of one of the glass bottles that seem to be popping back up all over the state. While I was tempted to drink it straight from the bottle, there’s only one right way to drink root beer, and that’s in a giant foamy mug that’s been chilled before pouring.

It’s certainly dark and silky. People have said that Barq’s doesn’t quite get the foamy head that other brands get, and I do see a little of that.

Upon taste, I notice it’s a little sweeter than many root beers. It’s got a little bit of kick but not as much as you’d expect given some of the advertisements. You can feel the caffeine a little bit. I like the caffeine, even though the amount of caffeine Barq’s has is lower than most sodas.

If you’re looking to get hooked on a good root beer that’s commonly available, you can’t go wrong with Barq’s.
We rate Barq’s 4 out of 5 on our Flat to Fizzy scale!

Fun Stuff:

– There’s also a Diet Barq’s, if you’re a wuss.

– There’s a variation called Barq’s Floatz, which is gradually becoming easier to find and comes in a nice glass bottle. The idea is that it tastes like a root beer float. To me it tastes like root beer with three times the sugar and some cream soda swirled in. I think I jumped about three feet in the air, hit my head, and fell asleep after drinking it. I’d like to do that more often, I like it.

– Marketing slogans include “Drink Barq’s. It’s good.”, “Barq’s Got Sparks”, “Barq’s has bite!”, and the infamous “Barq’s root beer jingle” where the company had supposedly “spent all its money on music and couldn’t afford to buy lyrics”.

– Around the time Coca-Cola purchased it, Barq’s advertised heavily in comic books where it started to gain following among a generation smitten with the high caffeine content of modern drinks.

– Barq’s is commonly available, appearing in supermarkets everywhere as well as fast-food chains.


The History:

The year is 1919. Deep in the heart of California, a parade is taking off for a group of celebrated World War I veterans located in the state. Set up along the parade route is a modest little stand run by a man named Roy Allen. Many people stopped by this stand, and these people were the first to taste what later became A&W Root Beer.

The drink was a smashing success, so much so that Allen was able to open up a few more stands. Among these stands was what was thought to be the first drive-in diner. Allen took on a partner named Frank Wright, and the combination of their initials formed the name: A&W Root Beer.

A franchise program soon developed and soon, A&W restaurants were peppered all over the landscape of the country. Over time, the soda took off more than the restaurants did, and A&W became available in grocery stores as well.

In the mid-nineties, following a consolidation pattern seen in the industry, A&W was acquired by the Dr Pepper/7up family. A&W is also associated with Yum! Brands, which is deeply rooted with PepsiCo.

Even today, many A&W restaurant locations still operate, and A&W has secured itself as a market leader in root beer.


The History:

7up was formulated deep in the heart of St. Louis in the mid 1920’s. Very soon after launch, the United States fell into the Great Depression, though we can hardly blame 7up for that (Sprite proponents would probably like to). In fact, 7up probably did more to enhance the spirits of the country than most other sodas, since the original formula contained lithium citrate, which was a well-known mood-stabilizing drug. By having this ingredient, 7up wasn’t just consumed for pleasure but was actually prescribed by many physicians of the day and often marketed as a health drink.

The forumla has been revamped many times, and after World War II the lithium citrate ingredient was removed.

Later on in the 20th century, Coca-Cola came along with their product Sprite and literally started muscling 7up out of the marketplace by closing off distribution channels. 7up fought back fiercely with litigation (which they lost) and a creative marketing campaign, “Make 7 Up Yours.”

The source of the name “7up” is frought with myth and urban legend. Stories ranging from cattle-brands to pH levels to ingredients to its common use as a hangover cure. The most likely scenario is that it was named based on the seven ingredients that it originally had, or perhaps the card game of the same name.

Taste Test:

To stay on a level playing field with Sprite, our 7up taste test was done straight from a 20oz bottle obtained from a vending machine.

We love lemon-lime sodas, so Making 7 Up Ours is always a pleasure.

It’s noticably sweeter than Sprite. It doesn’t have quite the “bite” that sprite does. It’s a bit more subdued. Very refreshing.

7up gets kudos for using “all natural ingredients.” It may or may not be a deciding factor but 7up does taste “cleaner” than Sprite. Some say that Sprite can leave a “chemical-like” aftertaste.