Though many observers think of New Orleans as the home of Barq’s Root Beer, the popular soft drink got its start in Biloxi in 1898, when New Orleans native Edward Charles Edmond Barq invented the soft drink with a bite. A trained chemist, Barq worked on Louisiana sugar plantations in the winters and spent his summers in Biloxi, bottling artesian water and concocting “soda pop flavors.” Barq’s Root Beer was first bottled by the Biloxi Artesian Bottling Works and began to be distributed nationally in 1906.
In the 1930s, Barq chose to bottle the beverage in twelve-ounce bottles rather than the standard six- and eight-ounce bottles, and franchises began to spread, first to Mobile, Alabama, and then to New Orleans. According to one source, “By 1937, 62 bottling plants had been established in 22 states.” In 1976 businessman John Koerner and attorney John Oudt purchased the company from the Barq family and moved its headquarters to New Orleans. The Coca-Cola Company purchased Barq’s in 1995. Slogans for the soft drink include “Barq’s Has Bite,” “Famous Ole Tyme Root Beer since 1898,” and “It’s Good.”
- Bill Lockhart, “Barq’s Bottling Co. and Double Cola Bottling Co.,” Password 49 (2004)
- Allan Petretti, Petretti’s Soda Pop Collectibles Price Guide: The Encyclopedia of Soda Pop Collectibles (3rd ed., 2003)
- “Third Generation Root Beer Maker Dies in Biloxi,” Associated Press (13 June 2003)