Remember This? Mugs Up

Dorri Partain

Got a nickel in your pocket?  

Then head over to the closest Mugs Up Root Beer stand, where “The nickel is mighty” and a glass mug of homemade root beer could be had for a mere five cents.

While Mugs Up stands eventually popped up across the country, the first stand was located in Kansas City at 6235 Raytown Road and opened in 1952.

Owner James Heavey conceived a complete marketing plan for franchising his business, with a modular metal building that was designed to serve food and drinks efficiently, while assuring low prices and good quality.

In addition to root beer, the small stands also offered a float dubbed the “Black Cow” in two sizes, a loose-meat sandwich named the Zip Burger, and the Whiz Burger, basically a Zip Burger topped with cheese spread.

Rounding out the menu, stands also offered hot dogs, chili dogs and popcorn; items that were easy to prepare and delivered to customers by female carhops.

Served in glass mugs, the root beer was the main attraction. Part of the marketing campaign was to serve children under the age of 5 their own tiny glass mug free of charge.

Carhops would serve the food and rootbeer by attaching a metal tray onto the driver side door, then return to collect the tray and empty mugs when the customer flashed their headlights.

Food items could be ordered to take home, and root beer was available to go, either by the quart (25 cents) or gallon jug (70 cents plus a 10 cent deposit).

Northeast residents got their own taste of Mugs Up root beer at two nearby locations; stand no.14 operated at 6200 Independence Ave from 1956 to 1979, while a stand at 4300 E. 9th only operated from 1965-1970.

Original Mugs Up root beer and sandwiches are still available at Bill & Ann’s Mugs Up, Independence, MO at 700 E. 23rd St.

View the complete menu on our website at

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