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A New Orleans Root Beer Question

Bill Hunt Mar 1, 2007 07:50 PM

OK, only a semi-food question/article, bu in the ‘70s, there was a radio/TV commercial in New Orleans for a root beer, that I think was a local, or semi-local product. The VO (Voice Over) tag line at the end went, “Zow Clifford!” followed by another VO, “Zow Junior!” pronounced in a “yat” accent, “Jun-yah-h.” I do not recall if the two characters (Clifford and Junior), who uttered these lines ever appeared in the TV versions, or if they were only VO’s. Most of the series, had the two men usually arguing over some trivial matter, that was always resolved during the commercials. I have tried to find, via the Internet, and my NO family, the name of the root beer, with no luck. The commercials aired during the latter half of the ‘70s, and may have continued after we moved to Colorado. My wife, a New Orleans native, remembers the commercials, but, like I am, is at a total loss as to the name. The only NO-based root beer, that I have been given is Dr Nut. I’ve researched them, and though they seem to have been in business under several corporate names in the ‘30s, again in the ‘50s, and once more in the ‘80s, I do not believe that they were the sponsor, especially as neither I, nor my wife, had ever heard of them, and do not recall the bottle/label. I am thinking Rex Root Beer, but cannot find much info on them, except that it was bottled by Coca-Cola and there are a ton of bottles on eBay. While researching Dr Nut, I did see that they were once owned by Wright’s Root Beer, and that name does strike a chord, though I do not believe that it was the one, that I am searching for. Being from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I was very familiar with that Biloxi concoction, Barq’s Root Beer, and do not think that this series was part of their advertising campaign. I believe that there was also a soft drink named Zap, which had a root beer in its lineup. Another possibility is Dad’s Root Beer, but I do not believe that it is/was a New Orleans product. Hope that this is food-related enough, so as to not be bumped by the admin. Remember, it’s root beer, and what goes better with seafood on the Lakefront, than a good root beer? Every time that we do NO-style shrimp po-boys, in AZ, I always have some Barq's on hand. BTW, we do them "dressed!"

Hunt

  1. j
    Jesdamala Mar 1, 2007 08:12 PM

    I know what I am posting is not what you are looking for but read this...about Abita Root Beer...yes, Abita makes root beer and claims it is like the ones from decades ago...

    http://www.abita.com/brew/rootbeer.html

    1. i
      Isabella Mar 2, 2007 04:20 AM

      My first reaction to your question, triggered by Joonya! is Barq's Root Beer.

      But I can guarentee a correct answer if you post this question here:

      http://www.network54.com/Forum/258202/

      1. t
        Tonto Mar 2, 2007 10:43 AM

        Ask Tom@nomenu.com. He remembers all that kind of stuff or call his radio show between 2 and 5 weekdays so we can here the answer 1-866-644-9762 or 504-593-2166.

        1. Jeeves_too May 22, 2008 09:37 AM

          The answer we're coming up with so far on the http://www.network54.com/Forum/258202/ board is Rex Root Beer.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Jeeves_too
            Bill Hunt Jul 21, 2009 10:25 PM

            Rex, eh? I had thought about Rex, and it just did not seem to fit, though I do recall it fondly. You could be correct, and my memory just cloudy.

            Thank you for posting that, especially after so very long.

            I have mailed Julia Street (and Poydras the Parrot) of "New Orleans Magazine" fame, but have never seen my question, nor have I received any correspondence.

            I have asked my family, who mostly still live in the NOLA area, and none seem to recall these commercials.

            Using the "Way-back Machine," I seem to recall these playing right after the WWL Ch. 4, news. Just about the time that the bearded, heavy-set commentator (first name Phil)would read his closing bit, the commercial would air. I also recall them on the radio, but cannot recall a particular station.

            Thank you for your input.

            Hunt

          2. s
            Shirley May 23, 2008 08:28 AM

            Could it be Zatarains? Believe it or not, this spice/prepared foods company had it roots in root beer. I have have some Zatarains root beer extract in my pantry.

            Here's a link to their product:
            http://shop.zatarains.com/zatarains%C...

            1. n
              nolavanilla Jul 21, 2009 11:16 AM

              No question about it. It was one of my favorite commercial jingles growing up in New Orleans (I was easily amused). "Rex has a great new taste called zow! ...called wow! ...Rex, zow!"

              5 Replies
              1. re: nolavanilla
                Bill Hunt Jul 21, 2009 10:27 PM

                Well, the votes are in. It MUST have been Rex Root Beer.

                BTW, it was Phil Johnson, who was the closer for the WWL news on Sunday afternoon.

                Hunt

                1. re: Bill Hunt
                  n
                  nolavanilla Jul 22, 2009 05:29 AM

                  And he would end every evening commentary with a short pause and a stern "...Good Evening."

                  Then there was Jim Metcalf's "Shades of New Orleans" with that haunting musical lead-in. And we all know who did the best weather, why it was Morgus of course and who could forget his faithful sidekick Chopsley. As I recall there were only two, maybe three, VHF stations in New Orleans in the late 50's - early 60's. Then along came the first UHF station, channel 26, WWOM. I distinctly remember the day they fired up the transmitters and the sound of their old jingle: "it's movie time, on WWOM TV." They let it be known that their call sign, WWOM, stood for "Wonderful World of Movies" and started their first day with the oldest movies available then over time would work their way into the more modern talking movies then into the present.

                  Anyways it's all about food here and all this talk makes me hungry for, and reminiscent of, one of those great muffuletta sandwiches which only their creators at Central Grocery knew how to make. We would board the Franklin Ave. bus and head up to the Italian section of the French Quarter where Grandma would "make groceries" and would occasionally head back to the lunch counter where we'd all split one of those monsters. On the way back to Gentilly they made my sister and I put our heads down and close our eyes as the bus cruised down Bourbon St. I haven't been back there in a while, don't know if they're still as good. And we sure as heck don't have anything like them here in Saint Petersburg.

                  I have a connection for good Italian meats and imported cheese here, a place called Mazzaro's. Their bread is good also and they make a muffuletta loaf. Problem is I have yet to find a good olive salad. It's what makes the sandwich. Any suggestions?

                  1. re: nolavanilla
                    bayoucook Jul 22, 2009 06:18 AM

                    I've been using this one for over 25 years, easy to do variations with it, too:

                    About 6 oz. roughly chopped pimento-stuffed salad olives
                    2 stalks celery, finely chopped, with some leaves
                    About 1/2 good olive oil
                    1 Tb. red wine vinegar
                    2 tsp. dried oregano
                    a/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
                    6 Tb. chpped fresh Italian parsley

                    Mix and let flavors meld for at least 6 hours.
                    Can add capers, artichoke hearts chopped, some black olives with the green, minced onion, anything you want to add.

                    1. re: bayoucook
                      n
                      nolavanilla Jul 23, 2009 04:34 AM

                      Wow, thanks, Im more than willing to give it a try. Need a little clarification on the amount of "good olive oil" ...about 1/2 what?

                    2. re: nolavanilla
                      Bill Hunt Jul 22, 2009 09:26 PM

                      Well, I recall WWOM, as the "underground" FM station, when only WTIX and WNOE were the only competitors, and WWL did the "talk radio" thing.

                      Back in my time on the Coast, I hooked up an antenna to pick up the NOLA stations, plus KAAY in Little Rock, as the local stations were horrible.

                      Now, it appears that you never had a muff at the old Frank's, back when his M-I-L was cooking. To me, those were the ones, by which others will always be judged. Same for her RB po-boys, but she and Frank, Sr., have been gone for too long to remember.

                      By the late '60s, I was either spending most of my time in NOLA, or I was living there.

                      Back in the earliest days, we shot footage for broadcast on WWL, WDSU and later WVUE (when they started) to show the hurricanes, and similar on the Coast. Then, we packed the B/W 16mm onto a Greyhound for transport to NOLA, and processing, then broadcast. If you saw footage of a storm hitting the Coast, during the '50s and early '60s, it was very likely that I was involved, though my father was more often the cameraman.

                      Well do I remember Rex Root Beer. Their bottles were thicker than most, though they had a surface treatment, not THAT far from Barq's. Barq's did "diamonds," while Rex did "flutes." I'd also say that Rex probably had +20% more glass, than the rest.

                      There is still something in the reaches of my memory, that is saying that Rex is not right, but that's probalby the cobwebs. Hey, how many hurricanes can one sit in the middle of, and not have their mind scrambled a bit?

                      Thanks,

                      Hunt

                2. a
                  AaronB Nov 12, 2010 09:29 AM

                  As I recall, (fondly) Barq's original tag line was "Is it root beer?" because the recipie wasnt one for a conventional root beer. And all earlier advertising used that line... a LOT!
                  I was a young actor in New orleans, and had a part in a Rex Root beer TV ad (I was famous for blowing on a bottle for awhile... amazing what impresses some girls)

                  As strange as it may seem, there is a store for soda-freaks like us in Phoenix called Pop The Soda Shop. I would recommend googling them and try a email or call. they are a wealth of knowledge on all things carbonated!

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: AaronB
                    Bill Hunt Nov 14, 2010 06:19 PM

                    Wow, a PHX rec. from an old thread on the NOLA board (originally). Have not heard of that shop, but will seek it out, when we return for Sydney.

                    Thanks, and thanks for the history tid-bit. I knew Barq's from Biloxi, and then NOLA, but did not recall that ad. Between you and me, I liked the "original" Barq's in the glass bottle with the little diamond relief on it, and never really warmed to it, after Coke bought the rights. Maybe that Biloxi water?

                    Appreciated,

                    Hunt

                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                      p
                      paprkutr Nov 14, 2010 07:11 PM

                      go online to www.sodapopstop.com they have all the old sodas from all over the country. They are located in los angeles, but mail all over. they also have beers and old fashion candy.

                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        h
                        hazelhurst Nov 15, 2010 04:58 AM

                        The Barq's story is fascinating...the founder split the company up between an "adopted" son--I'm not sure if the boy was ever legally adopted---and the other kids so that there were three Barq's...tow in Louisiana (baton Rouge and New Orleans) and one in Mississippi. I am told that the Louisiana Barq's was root beer until teh FDA made some changes in teh 1930's to the definition of "root beer." One story has it that the caffeine was too high in Barq's to qualify and the La. companies simply took "Root Beer" off the label. Things rattled along for awhile until someone bought Mississippi Barq's and declared war on teh Louisiana Barqs. Evil money won out and the stuff was sold to Coke for zillions. The adulterator was eventually made Rex (as in Da King o' Carnival) a few years ago.

                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                          c
                          CocoaNut Nov 15, 2010 09:54 AM

                          With my roots deeply entrenched in Gulfport, Long Beach and being "birthed" in Biloxi, I'm always pleased to see cred's given where cred's are due.....

                          1. re: CocoaNut
                            Bill Hunt Nov 15, 2010 04:15 PM

                            Being a "Coast boy," I try, when I can.

                            I always did feel slighted, as Biloxi had better restaurants, generally, than did Gulfport, but we'd sneak over the line and date their girls...

                            I still order a Barq's (regardless of the history, that Hazelhurst so graciously furnished), when having a shrimp po-boy. One of the very few dishes that will cause me to pass on wine!

                            Hunt

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