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It delicious. It cool and it may be the longest tradition at the North Dakota State Fair.

grandparents came to this fair. They did root beer when the horse and buggies were around, said Jim Thomsen, Haslet, Texas. started in 1920 or 22, right in that area, and went around North Dakota and Montana. first fair held in Minot was in 1922. Thomsen didn know for certain, but it is a pretty good bet that his grandparents were selling root beer to the region initial fairgoers. His grandmother was from Grand Forks and therefore familiar with the area. His grandfather was a Missouri man. The couple met on what Thomsen described as the probably getting acquainted over a mug or two of foamy root beer.

Although root beer can be traced to Medieval times, it is about as distinctly American as any product can get. Root beer originated in Europe as an alternative to poor drinking water. Charles Hires, a pharmacist, is credited with making a root based drink and dubbing it beer. It was thought the designation was important to help sales. The idea proved particular effective during the prohibition.

can tell you this, said Thomsen. one time all of our grandparents used to make root beer. Almost everybody old talks about grandma making root beer. There may be only one flavor of Pepsi or Coke but there like 42 flavors of root beer. There no single recipe for root beer. In fact, when Barq root beer arrived on the scene in 1898 is was a sarsaparilla based Root Beer, not sassafras root like many other recipes. In 1919, Roy Allen began marketing his root beer which eventually became the very popular A W brand.

Thomsen Root Beer comes from an old family recipe perfected during those years in the 1920s. It has continued to be popular with all who try it. Thomsen Root Beer has an old time flavor that excites the taste buds of true root beer fanatics.

got a good one. We like it, said Thomsen. a family recipe and it always been a family recipe. We make our own root beer right here at the fair. We mix it in a big silver can,
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like a cream can. It been that way since way back in the 1950s. can be seen smiling their approval after tasting a cool Thomsen Root Beer. Although the famous chilled root beer is a wonderfully pleasing drink, today it is most often served with ice cream.

sell more floats than we sell root beer, remarked Thomsen. sell tons of them. for root beer, well, who doesn remember the first time they tasted it and the feeling of satisfaction that resulted. It seems everyone enjoys a good root beer.

is absolutely true and I don know anybody that hasn tasted a root beer, said Thomsen.

Thomsen Root Beer was sold at the State Fair for many years out of giant wooden kegs set atop square tables. Above that was a green and black awning. The salesperson stood in front of the table and encouraged passersby to stop and purchase an original chilled root beer.

Thomsen said he made his first trip to the North Dakota State Fair at age 10. That was 59 years ago. He left home with his parents permission.

From a Thomsen set up near the grandstand Wednesday he pointed to the west and said, were houses over there. There trees missing. There was a road in here to the front gate, no concrete or blacktop. We parked cars out here. beer sales in the early days of the fair were much different than today. The root beer came from a large barrel and was poured from a tap directly into a glass mug. Customers had to drink the root beer while standing near the keg and then return the mug to the counter.

was a little before my time, laughed Thomsen. sold root beer out of barrels. They had three tubs down below wash, rinse and sanitize. When we came up with paper cups, which was more in my time, you could take the root beer with you. taps on the root beer kegs sitting on the counter at Thomsen Root Beer stands today, there are three of them at the fair, are stamped 1956. The company that makes them has long gone out of business but Thomsen Root Beer is still served from the old style faucets. It may seem like a small item but it points back to the very roots of original root beer.

sell maybe 400 glasses a day at this stand, remarked Thomsen. get to see people smile and smack their lips. It the good old stuff.
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