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Mar 12, 2007 11:50 AM

A & W Root Beer

The last time I had A & W root beer at their drive-in was as a kid ... at that time there were still car hops, a tray was attached to your window that held huge frosty mugs.

I've had a can here and there over the years, but that is the equivalent of bottled Starbucks frappucino ... it isn't the same.

So, I was passing by an A & W, the thirst was upon me and I drove up and placed my order.

Now I knew there would be no glass mug and my expectations were it wouldn't be close to what it was those many years ago. However, I was expecting better than canned and pleasant.

First I thought they gave me diet A & W, it had that artifical taste with the unpleasant aftertaste of fake sweeteners. On top of it, it was weak and watery.

I don't recall EVER taking a fast food item back ... we aren't talking pricy fine wine here ... I usually just toss and take the loss of a buck or two.

However, I was so offended by this drink that I took it back ... first to check if it was a mistaken diet version and second to alert them if they had a dispensing machine having problems.

They were nice as can be. Confrimed it was regular and not diet, tossed my cup and put a bit in another cup to sip and check ... yep, that was what A & W was meant to taste like. They substituted a Pepsi for me because I really couldn't drink that even if it hadn't been tossed.

The Pepsi was on the weak side too, so perhaps it is just the way this A&W mixes its soda.

So the question is ... has A&W deteriorated that much ... or did I just stop at a bad A&W?

Is there still frosty goodness out there or has it went the way of car hops?

How's the rest of the food?

Here's a post from a few months back that seems positive and gives me hope there are better A & W's out there.

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  1. Frosted mug as a youth and brought home many a quart to savor over the years. It has been about five since I had a fresh and frosty at the orange window but it was as I remembered.

    My understanding was in the old days the real stuff at the hut did not have preservatives because they told us we nneded to drink within two days. The cans had no such time restrictions.

    It is a shame that you did not enjoy.

    Could it be like so many other items from our youth that it does taste the same, but our memories remember it better. I used to loved baked macaroni with Velveeta as a kid but i tried as an adult and we tested the disposal that night.

    5 Replies
    1. re: jfood

      No it wasn't a memory thing. This was undrinkable. It wasn't even good by major soft drink standards and had no root beer taste. Seriously, if someone gave me this in a blind tasting, i would have guessed watered down diet cola ... an off brand.

      1. re: rworange

        Only one word for that RW, Blech!!

        1. re: rworange

          I had the same experience. Decades ago my cousins and I used to go to A&W in Sacramento - they didn't have them for some reason in the Bay Area. Recently one opened here on Oahu.... I was SO disappointed when I tried it. Watered down, no bite, just sort of an "off" sweet taste. Like you I wondered if it had been "contaminated" by the diet variety.

          1. re: rworange

            There might have been something wrong with the mixture in the fountain.

            We have an A&W in the town south of us (such places are only open during warm weather although the Sonic in Ft. Dodge is open year-round, including carhops bringing your food out), and we went there for a root beer float awhile back. Big frosty glass and it was so full it spilled when I stuck the spoon in it. Yummy.

            1. re: revsharkie

              No. The person working there poured herself a bit from the fountain and said that was how it was supposed to taste. That was my first question ... if there might be a problem.

        2. You can still get it in the frosted mug at actual restaurants, which is a nice touch if you can find it! Apparently they still hand-dip the onion rings too, but I don't like onion rings so I can't vouch for them.

          I'm not a fast food burger person, but I indulge in and enjoy a mozza or teen burger once a year or less. And I like their diet rootbeer. Especially in float formation!

          That said, last year in BC we found A&W was very common so we ate there twice in a week, that cured me of my cravings for a while.

          1. I was a fry cook in one in 1966. That cured me. The only good thing was that Janet Perez worked there too.

            1. A&W are quite common in Toronto. At the stand-alone locations they still have the frosted mugs. I love their onion rings. I have been to various locations in Toronto and have never had bad root beer there. And they still do not put any ice in their drinks which is great.

              1 Reply
              1. I didn't even see your name before I thought that it might be you. What do you eat and enjoy here? And I do mean that as an honest question. What? Anything? Have you had no decent meal here ever since coming from Boston? (It was Boston, right?)

                I drink rootbeer infrequently, but Barque's is sharp, fresh, but it's not the same as A&W of old. Best available locally, to my mind. And I do agree with rworange.... the rootbeer ain't what it once was.

              2. I stopped at the original A & W location (Lodi, CA) over the weekend and had a root beer float, and it was as wonderful as I remember they always used to be. Frosted mug, hand-scooped ice cream, and a new generation of "Janet Perez", too!

                I don't know if this particular location is part of the Yum Foods group or not...since it's the original location, it may have been excluded from the buyout. (They don't sell chicken or tacos there.) Sadly, the only remaining member of the Burger Family is 'Papa Burger'. Mama, Teen, and Baby are history.