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Lodi: The birthplace of A&W Root Beer
209 AW tray of food copy

LODI — Want a real root beer float?

Then take a trip to Lodi, the birthplace of A&W Root Beer and the classic frosty mug.

It’s just a 60-mile round trip from Manteca up Highway 99 to the Lodi central exit and then west to 216 Lodi Ave. to enjoy honest-to-goodness American Food (their trademark) and what really counts — the real McCoy of root beer floats.

As much as places like Jack-in-the-Box and Dairy Queen try (paper doesn’t cut it) or Chubby’s gives it a good run (sorry, it’s glass but it’s not a glass mug and it’s not A&W Root Beer).

Last Sunday we headed north. Lunch and floats came to just under $20. The food was good (even the veggie burger substitute), the floats were great. The medium float hits the spot.

You have to order it in a glass mug. It’s guaranteed brain freeze. It is also the only way that the float tastes perfect. It might be the thickness of the cold glass. It could be just the memories of childhood. But whatever it is, burning a couple gallons of gas was worth it. There are plenty of other things in nearby downtown Lodi, including antique stores and specialty shops. There is even a retro McDonald’s two blocks to the west of A&W.

The A&W has one of the most complete collections you’re going to find of A&W memorabilia. There is even a 1950s ambiance from the tables and seats to the juke box. If you prefer, there is also car hop service.

The A&W is open daily, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

A few notes about A&W and Lodi:

 Roy Allen mixed up a batch of creamy root beer and sold the first frosty mug for a nickel in June of 1919 in Lodi.

 Allen purchased the formula for his root beer from a pharmacist in Arizona. To this day, the unique blend of herbs, spices, barks and berries remains a proprietary secret.

In 1950, with over 450 A&W’s operating nationwide, founder Roy Allen retired. By 1960, the number of A&Ws had swelled to more than 2000.

u On June 19, 1999, A&W Root Beer of Lodi became the world’s record holder for the largest root beer float at 2,562.5 gallons.