Off The Map Signs - Belfast Old Fashioned Mug Root Beer in Fruitvale / by Kasey Smith

The Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland has been going through some changes in recent years. Lots of houses are being sold and renovated, often revealing older architectural details that have been hidden for years or even decades. This recently sold building on San Leandro Street at 34th is currently being remodeled. And what do I spy with my little eye but a ghost sign peering out through the recently removed siding.


Belfast Old Fashioned Mug Root Beer is the precursor to Mug Root Beer. It was originally produced in the 1940’s by the Belfast Beverage Company, headquartered across the bay in foggy San Francisco (Belfast Beverage Company harkens all the way back to the Gold Rush era). Eventually the name was shortened to Old Fashioned Mug Root Beer, and then simply Mug Root Beer. It’s currently produced by a subsidiary of PepsiCo.

The half obscured text at the top of the sign reads “You haven’t tasted root beer like this in years!”

 This sign was obviously painted sometime between when Belfast Beverage Company started making root beer and when they first changed the soda’s name. Conveniently, the sign has further helped us pinpoint that date by incorporating the copyright info into the design! So this sign is no older than 1950 and probably no younger than the mid 1960’s.

Check out this sign soon! It looks like painting crews are already gearing up to paint it over.

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In case you miss it, there’s a second East Bay Belfast sign which can be found on Webster and Haight in Alameda. There are several great restored ghost signs on that street and I HIGHLY recommend checking them out. Additional information on the Alameda sign can be found here.