“Oh Lord! Stuck in Lodi again.”
I hadn’t remembered John Fogerty’s song, Lodi,” sung by Creedence Clearwater Revival, until a friend reminded me. I had been polling people about anything to see or do in the agricultural town in central California. “Wineries” was all anyone could come up with, even after I said I didn’t drink.
I ended up wandering around the downtown area finding a spectacularly pentimentoed ghost sign.
What no one mentioned was that A & W originated in Lodi. When I read that in one of the tourist brochures I’d picked up, I discovered I was only a few blocks away from the A&W stand. I braved the sun to find:
According to their website: In 1919, at a parade honoring returning World War I veterans in Lodi, California, Roy Allen set up a roadside drink stand to offer a new thick and creamy drink, root beer. His creation was such a success, he decided to take on a partner, Frank Wright. In 1922, Allen and Wright combined their initials to name the beverage A&W Root Beer.
Allen wasted no time opening his first permanent root beer stand in Lodi, followed by a second one in Sacramento. It featured the first “drive-in” concept with “tray-boys” for curbside service. Then, in 1924 Allen bought out Wright to pursue a franchising program, which became America’s first franchised restaurant chain. He sold A&W Root Beer concentrate exclusively to these franchises to ensure quality. By 1933, more than 170 outlets were franchised.”
Who knew? Of course, I honored the celebration of A&W’s 95 years in business by enjoying a root beer float in a frosted glass mug, just like I had throughout my childhood. Now, if you’re heading to Lodi…