The beverage industry is full of niche and regional brands that find ways to remain relevant as consumer trends come and go. We drop into two such brands today – Jel Sert and Ale-8-One. Each has a century of history that started with determined founders.
Jel Sert began life in 1926 making instant gelatin desserts. Founders Charles and Lillian Wegner created the product using expertise from Charles’ work with Cracker Jack in Chicago, where he worked with gelatin used in a product called Campfire Marshmallows. Soon the couple would launch the powdered drink mix Flavor-Aid, later parlaying that into Fla-Vor-Ice pops, each time taking advantage of prevailing industry trends. As grandson and President Ken Wegner told us in today’s story on page 7, the company is iterating yet again as consumer fascination grows for new forms of the classic cocktail, such as liquor-infused ice pops.
Not terribly far away in northern Kentucky, Ale-8-One’s founder got started in soft drinks after a chance encounter with a carbonation machine in 1902. George Lee Wainscott, already a businessman, started bottling fruit flavored sodas and would soon create his own formulas, including Roxa Kola, which drew a trademark infringement lawsuit by Coca-Cola. Hedging his bets in case he lost (he would end up winning), Wainscott developed a toned-down ginger beer for American palettes that would become iconic in the region. The brand was named “A Late One,” which was 1920s slang for “the latest thing,” according to the company. The name was later changed to Ale-8-One, a pun based on the original name (get it?). As you will read on page 9, the company has since navigated a sugar backlash, while capitalizing on consumer desire for provenance and authentic backstories to reach almost every state. The company even hired a
mixologist to suggest recipes using Ale-8-One for cocktail-thirsty millennials.
Both are companies that successfully dove into food and beverage trends that would eventually give way to new consumer desires. They have persisted by listening rather than resisting. In fact, it might just be time for these two companies to collaborate on a bourbon-spiked Ale-8-One ice pop, and we won’t even insist on a finder’s fee.
– Duane Stanford, Editor & Publisher
© 2022 Beverage Digest.
Design, CMS, Hosting & Web Development :: ePublishing