Last week I was contacted by a representative of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. A pleasant young woman had been given my name by a few people in the beverage community. They were looking to do a podcast on Orbitz, the late, great sensation from Clearly Canadian, in specific, and the beverage marketplace in general. They were told that I could articulate the story, as I’m not known as a shy, reticent person, and always have an opinion on everything beverage-related, and beyond. Since I was older than the hills, and around for 26 years chronicling the industry, they felt I was qualified to address the topic. I was up to the task and headed to their studio on 3rd and 46th.
I donned the headphones and had the mic thrust in my mug. Again, a pleasant young Canadian broadcaster introduced himself and said he’d be the interviewer. We started in about Orbitz and expanded to the landscape of the industry from many years ago. Orbitz was one of my favorite brands in all my years in beverages. It was exciting in execution, captured the consumer’s imagination and, for a brief time, revitalized Clearly Canadian. This was creativity at its finest: great packaging, taste, and brilliantly marketed to its target consumer, kids. To this day, it brings a smile to my face, and to long-time beverage people who remembered it and loved it.
The conversation next moved to other products, early on, that tickled my fancy. So, I decided to share with you a few brands, companies and people that made a mark on me early in my beverage world. I first thought of West End Soda Brew, created by two ex-A-B guys, Michael and Ted. It personified fantastic taste and elegant packaging. I next turned to Jones Soda and the genius of Peter Van Stolk. It’s marketing prowess was the best. Who else could come in with Turkey and Gravy soda. I’m proud to say that their “My Jones” division was implemented first, in concept and execution, with my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. It was the perfect party favor.
I look to RC Premium Draft Cola, spearheaded by that regal gentleman John Carson. It was my favorite soda then and probably would be today. Nantucket Nectars, Tom and Tom’s epic creations, was another of my favorites, with the story and imagery to match the taste. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Don Vultaggio, the man behind the most consistently creative brands and packaging. I still have the gallon jugs of Green Tea and Lemon Tea in my refrigerator to lure my grown- up kids uptown. In my 26 years in beverages, there has been no one who has innovated and stayed on top like Don.
I could go on and on about other brands that I loved, but my editors can only allot so much space to my ramblings. Suffice to say, my love affair with this industry has not abated after all these years. These brands and people are the reason why.