Judge Joseph Wapner of "People's Court" fame has always loved root beer.

His nephew, Robert Powells, suggested that he start his own label. After all, Powells knows that Wapner still has star power. The nephew has a poster of his famous uncle at the Camarillo store he co-owns with Ryan Morgan, Rocket Fizz Soda Pop and Candy Shop, and people are always commenting on the poster.

So when Powells and Wapner were at an Angels baseball game last summer, Powells said he could sell a few bottles. So they created Judge Wapner Root Beer, which launched earlier this month. Wapner handed out autographed bottles to a few hundred people who came to Rocket Fizz for the celebration.

"It's a very traditional root beer we developed," Powells said.

Rocket Fizz is in negotiations to distribute the beverage to other stores for retail sales. The root beer is an addition to the Rocket Fizz soda collection. The store, which sells more than 1,400 sodas, also carries vintage candies and toys. Powells and Morgan plan to open more locations in Burbank, Las Vegas and Nebraska.

Wapner's is at least the second root beer to be introduced in the L.A. area recently. Seven-year-old Oscar Youd and his family launched Margo's Bark Root Beer, which is available at local retailers and Bristol Farms.

Matthew T. Washington

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