Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics, is quite famous for his unique and compelling research on crime, but today he is using his economic mind to ponder disappointing service at a local A&W restaurant.
Writing on the NYTimes Freakonomics blog, Levitt recounts a tale of trying to order a frosty mug of root beer, the chain’s flagship product, which shockingly didn’t work out.
After he was told once that the restaurant was out of root beer–A&W was fresh out of A&W–Levitt even tried again on another day only to be turned away once more.
He theorized a bit about the situation:
How can A&W run out of root beer? It doesn’t seem like the inventory costs associated with keeping a small buffer stock of your marquee product are very large. You might think that the first rule at A&W would be to always have root beer.
Today a subsidiary of Yum! Brands Inc., A&W dates back to 1919 when it was founded by Roy Allen and Frank Wright, who came up with the brand name by using the first letter of their last names. A&W went from a humble producer of draft root beer and root beer floats to a successful food franchise enterprise offering hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries.
If they were still around today, the founders would be see that A&W now offers a game of Root Beer Pong online and an exclusive “Mug Club” for you to join, but when it comes down to it, the famous beverage itself can be at times hard to come by at its signature eatery.
The Tickle City Award Committee remains a big fan of the restaurant chain, whose creative food items include the new BBQ Bacon Crunch sandwich, Papa Burger and the famous Coney chili dog. This situation is most likely just an isolated incident.
Levitt, who has been critical of Yum! Brands chain KFC in the past, leaves the post somewhat open ended on his blog, and it will remain to be seen as to whether he is planning to publish a full-length study on how the lack of A&W root beer is linked to legalized abortion, police hiring, increased campaign spending or other factors.