Death By Root Beer

A Soda Tax Would Not Have Prevented Henry Koerner’s Death

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn’t like soda and would like to tax people to discourage them from drinking it. But it wasn’t obesity or the root beer itself that caused Henry Koerner’s demise, it was a bizarre accident.

In the August 20, 1892 New York Times, a brief story appears about Henry Koerner, who worked for Lighte Brothers (a mineral water manufacturer) at 509 East 17th Street and how he was killed when the root beer he was loading on to a wagon exploded.

When Koerner slipped on a fruit peeling on the sidewalk, the ten pound pressurized tank of root beer he was carrying dropped on the stone pavement and exploded like a charge of dynamite.  The tank shattered in all directions with one piece going right through Koerner’s head, killing him instantly. The explosion was so powerful, the top of the tank went 150 feet into the air and fell to the ground with a deafening crash.  The poor man left behind a wife and three children.

I’m sure there was little if any compensation for his loss of life, as accidents like this were dismissed as being part of the hazards of working.  Below is the original newspaper story.

1 thought on “Death By Root Beer

  1. John Herbster1

    Before the safrole in the sassafras roots and bark caused the FDA to change the formulations of “root beer” in 1960, has anyone estimated the number of people in the USA who died from cancer caused by the old formulations?


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