Diet? Not on August 6. It’s National Root Beer Float Day, after all — a time to enjoy one of the best beverage/dessert combos on the planet. On that day, some even compete for root beer float greatness. It all started in Colorado back in 1893. Frank J. Wisner was inspired. Surrounded by Cow Mountain where his Cripple Creek Brewing Company was located, Wisner came up with a novel idea. While mountain gazing, he didn’t see snow-covered peaks. Instead, Wisner envisioned scoops of ice cream floating in root beer. Crazy, right? So, today, enjoy the tallest, fizziest root beer float you can find!
Note: Read on to find out how you can get a free A&W root beer today!
When is National Root Beer Float Day 2023?
The frothy beverage/dessert combo we all love is celebrated on National Root Beer Float Day on August 6.
History of National Root Beer Float Day
The unique fusion of ice cream with root beer is unlike anything else. This summertime delicacy has a history as rich as its texture and flavor!
Frank J. Wisner, the owner of Colorado’s Cripple Creek Brewing, is the person to thank for creating the root beer float on August 19, 1893. The idea behind this extraordinary innovation came to Wisner when he was looking at the snowy peaks of Colorado’s Cow Mountain that gave the illusion of ice cream floating on a beverage. While staring out of the window of the Cripple Creek Cow Mountain Gold Mining Company, Wisner thought the glow of the full moon made the snow-capped mountains resemble ice cream.
The following day, Wisner got to work combining vanilla ice cream with root beer and calling the result the ‘Black Cow Mountain.’ The soda he had used was Myers Avenue Red Root Beer. The root beer float was served to his guests the very next day and became an instant hit. Children shortened the word to ‘Black Cow,’ and today it is simply known as root beer float.
National Root Beer Float Day timeline
Pharmacist Charles Elmer Hires debuts a commercial version of root beer at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition.
Ray Allen opens a root beer stand in Lodi, California, which would eventually become the A&W restaurant chain.
The popularity of non-alcoholic root beer explodes during Prohibition.
The FDA bans safrole, the aromatic oil that initially gave root beer its distinctive flavor. The ingredient caused liver damage during animal testing.
A&W Restaurants throw a party by filling small frosty mugs with their classic mix of vanilla soft serve and root beer — and giving them away free!
Since its creation, countless root beer floats have been enjoyed throughout the world. The tradition of the day is to enjoy refreshing root beer floats. The original recipe has evolved into many variations, each with their own unique flavor, while retaining the original root beer float texture.
Popular root beer floats that have become traditional favorites include the Coke Float, Boston Cooler, Purple Cow, and the Harry Potter-inspired Butterbeer.
National Root Beer Float Day By The Numbers
1876 – the year when root beer was invented
16 – the number of roots and herbs that root beer is made of.
3% – the percentage that root beer makes up in America’s soft drink market.
1960 – the year when a key ingredient of root beer, the sassafras root, was banned by the FDA.
#1 – the ranking of A&W as the leading root beer brand in America.
National Root Beer Float Day FAQs
Who has $1 root beer floats?
Coke- and root beer floats for $1 are limited-time promotions at Arby’s.
What fast food has root beer floats?
McDonald’s features root beer floats as part of their secret menu.
Why do they call it a root beer float?
Originally known as ‘Black Cow,’ the root beer float got its name from the ice cream that floats on top of the beverage.
National Root Beer Float Day Activities
Whip up your own root beer float
There's no better way to celebrate National Root Beer Float Day than by concocting your own root beer float. Grab a bottle of your favorite brand of root beer, pour into a chilled glass and top off with a fresh scoop of vanilla ice cream. Nice!
Conduct some root beer research
Now, this is the kind of research you can appreciate! The Root Beer Store sells more than 100 brands and flavors of root beer. You can check out customer reviews of all the root beers for sale and even order mix-and-match bottles. Your local specialty liquor store may also have a pretty good selection, so drink up!
Throw a root beer party for adults
Hard root beer is blowing up! Clever brewers have come up with root beers that include varying levels of alcohol. Invite the neighbors over for a dessert party and imbibe on some root beer floats. But be careful, while the root beer goes down fast and smooth, it'll eventually catch up with you.
5 Reasons We Need A Root Beer Float, Like Right Now
Jeni's ice cream shops can double your pleasure with root beer floats made with root beer ice cream and Boylan root beer.
The Philly float
The Franklin Fountain in Philadelphia creates authentic root beer floats made with their own brand of root beer syrup and ice cream.
The custard float is a definite thing
Scooter's Frozen Custard in Chicago offers a root beer float made with vanilla custard, a refreshing twist on the standard float.
Why float when you can freeze?
Instead of floating the ice cream on top of a glass of root beer, blend the two together to make a root beer freeze.
The root beer float with a kick
SpringHouse restaurant in Alexander City, Alabama, serves up a bourbon float made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, bourbon ice cream and a house-made root beer syrup.
Why We Love National Root Beer Float Day
It's a perfect combination
It seems like such a simple recipe — root beer in a tall, iced glass and two scoops of vanilla ice cream. But if you're trying to get beyond the ordinary, then use extraordinary ingredients. Select a frothy root beer with a high sarsparilla content and loads of sweetness. Add rich, vanilla bean ice cream and get creative with your toppings.
Floats come in many varieties
The Boston Cooler was invented in Detroit, of all places, and is made with Vernor's ginger ale and vanilla ice cream. In many Asian eateries you can order a Snow White, which is composed of vanilla ice cream and 7-Up or Sprite. In Mexico, you can grab a Holado flotante, a combination of cola and lemon sherbet.
It generates donations for a good charity
On National Root Beer Float Day, A&W Restaurants collects donations for Disabled American Veterans, a charity that fights for better health care benefits for America's injured heroes. What a sweet idea!
National Root Beer Float Day dates