Five years ago Oscar Youd decided, with the help of his family, to study how yeast eats sugar to create carbonation. Oscar was in kindergarten at the time, and the project was for his school science fair in Los Angeles. Oscar's dad, Tim had experience making root beer as a kid with his grandfather, so they used a kit they purchased and doctored it up with a few extra ingredients from their old family recipe to make it even tastier.
A few kitchen explosions here, a giant mess there and the Youds bottled 120 bottles of their root beer, which they served to more than 300 people at the fair. It was so well received that all of Oscar's friends and family thought that the family should sell it, which is exactly what they did.
But there's a sweet twist. It turns out that the Youd family, in addition to making delicious root beer, is a bunch of animal lovers . . . rescued animals in particular. After the science fair and the overwhelmingly positive reaction from friends and family, Tim turned to Oscar's mom, Jessica, and said, "Let's manufacture this and give 100% of our profits to animal rescue." Thus the story of Margo's Bark began.
The Youd family soon discovered that making root beer takes more than just good quality ingredients and a little carbonation. They bought and tasted just about every brand of root beer that is made in the US today to hone in on exactly what makes a root beer great. They also worked for more than a year to get the taste just right. Every month the whole family sat around the kitchen table offering tasting notes on a new round of root beer samples. The following month, more sample recipes would get tasted. According to Jessica, President of Margo's Bark, "Patience, knowing exactly what taste you are looking for and the best ingredients you can find" are what make the best product.
Once they settled on a final recipe, the Youds toured bottling plants and microbreweries to study the production process and applied what they learned to Margo's Bark. The packaging design is based on Oscar's original artwork. The whole family continued to play a part in the distribution as Oscar's older siblings — the ones old enough to drive — helped with local deliveries as well as serving Margo's Bark at animal rescue events. As a result of the good taste, natural ingredients and the cause, Whole Foods, became interested in the product on the West Coast and it has been growing ever since.
Why the name Margo's Bark? Margo is their rescued black labrador retriever/pit bull mix and Oscar named the root beer after her. It is truly a smooth root beer — "All Bark and No Bite," you might say.
All of the proceeds from Margo's Bark are donated to animal rescue organizations. The Youds have met many rescue organizations and donate to those most in need, for example local Southern California rescues in need of medical funds or funds for fostering pets. They also help a wild burro rescue and farm animals.
Oscar's favorite treat is a root beer float. So just as long as there is some ice cream around to pour the root beer on top of, he's thrilled. Of course every time the Youds are invited to a party, they come with Margo's Bark, which is always welcome.
Margo's Bark root beer is found in prominent retailers and restaurants on the West Coast and can be ordered online as well. Check out their website for more information about their root beer, which features an online store as well as a listing of the animal rescue groups that receive assistance from the sales of Margo's Bark.