01-15-2010, 01:01 AM
Where would someone find the different bottlers, their territories and products? Is there some kind of "map" somewhere online? When I travel throughout the US, I would love to know when and where to start and stop looking for unique products etc. Any help would be great.
01-15-2010, 02:17 AM
Beverage Digest is the only real resource for information like that, and their products are mainly geared towards professionals in the industry. Their Fact Book is going to set you back $575.
Some bottlers/distributors have a map of their territories on their website.
Really, your best resource is this board. Many people have posted roadtrip experiences, where they've gone, what they've found, etc. Plus, product availability will change over time, due to products being discontinued, new stuff being introduced, different salespeople on routes, etc, etc.
Sometimes half the fun is making a trip not knowing what you'll find, and being surprised when you find something really interesting. I try to stop at a variety of stores in an area I've never been in before - a few c-stores (I avoid the chains with a set beverage section, around here that would be Wawa and Royal Farms. Not going to find anything rare/interesting there), an independent grocer, if there is one (independents tend to carry off the wall stuff, since there isn't a corporate office to go through, you can basically just bring a new/odd item in, and they add it to the system), and a chain grocery/Super Walmart - to find some good deals/sales, plus some devote a lot of space to beverages, so you might find a really good selection.
Your best resource is this board, to be honest. People have posted in the past where they're going, and ask what they'll find there, and maybe along the way. Of course, it's always helpful to know specifically where you're starting, and where you're finishing up. "Florida" or "Texas" really isn't that helpful.
I bring along some sort of notepad, clipboard w/ paper, etc to record where I stop, what I find, and so on. I'm obviously not going to remember all that information once I get home, so it helps to have notes to jog my memory. Plus, my phone has a camera, so I can take pictures in stores without really being noticed or bothered, and also not having to buy something just because it's unusual, even though I'm probably not going to drink it. Full size cameras can be risky, especially if there are a lot of store personnel floating around, or you forget to turn off your flash (like I did one time, oops). Although I have to say, I did get some really good shots at Jungle Jim's on a slow Sunday night.
Sadly, as bottlers/distributors consolidate, the unique and interesting stuff the old independent bottler/distributor carried may be dropped, because to the bigger bottler, the small amount of sales doesn't justify carrying it. Although gourmet/niche type sodas seem to be enjoying popularity now, especially stuff in glass with real sugar. It also can cost a lot to run a production line, and over the years a lot of the smaller guys have quit producing all together, and instead just buy from the corporate production facilities around them, or join a production co-op. Again, stuff they may have run in smaller batches may not be carried by the new bottler.
01-15-2010, 04:06 PM
Thanks for the response. The area I most travel is Southeast Michigan or Northwest Ohio. Anyone know how that particular area is split up?
01-15-2010, 10:44 PM
DPS is the 3rd tier for both states. I've been in their territory in Youngstown and Akron, and they have a pretty good selection. Ruby Red Squirt, 8pk 12oz bottles, and so on. Marc's usually has good prices on soda.
Marc's - Home Page (http://www.marcs.com/)
DPS' lineup will change somewhat once the Pepsi/PBG/PAS merger goes through. PBG is a big Vernor's bottler in MI, and they're giving that brand up.
Coke is all CCE, except in Cleveland, where it's Cleveland Coke. They make the sucrose colas. I remember the Coke lineup being fairly standard, the main difference is that they have Canada Dry in northeastern OH (and Cleveland has it too), and Schweppes in most of the rest of the state. Some branches also have Ale-8-1, like Dayton.
Like I posted in the other thread, PepsiAmericas has the northern part of Ohio. I remember them really pushing 8oz cans, they had special wooden racks in stores. They also had Seagram's as their ginger ale, even in cubes. A little further south you run into Pepsi G&J territory - they are in Columbus and other areas.
PBG has Michigan all locked up. I've never been to Michigan, so I can't comment on what they have there.
I know there's an independent Canada Dry distributor in Lansing, but that's out of your way. their website is cdry.net
Just remembered another one. Intrastate Distributors, the company who used to bottle the glass Crush longnecks. They operate out of an old Pepsi bottling facility in Detroit, and do contract packing for various companies, and produce their Towne Club sodas. They also distribute soda, beer, and other beverages. Unfortunately, their website is woefully outdated. Welcome to Intrastate Distributors, Inc. (http://www.intrastatedistributors.com)
That's all I can think of at the moment. Hopefully someone else will chime in.
01-15-2010, 10:45 PM
If you haven't had it, Barq's Red Creme seems to be big in Ohio. You might also find Cherikee Red if you're lucky.