In its heyday, A-Treat was popular not just in the Lehigh Valley but throughout the Northeast corridor, including New York City. But A-Treat nearly died in 2015, surviving only through the resources and savvy of a new owner, the Jaindl Companies of Orefield, another well-known name in the Lehigh Valley, a region of Pennsylvania about an hour north of Philadelphia.
But rebound it did, and A-Treat celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017 and a new era under Jaindl. The soda brand boasts 18 flavors – some iconic such as cream soda and birch beer – sold in limited distribution outlets throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland and New Jersey and available online.
“It’s a feeling of happiness, helping to save a brand that has impacted so many lives,” said Luke Jaindl, general manager of the A-Treat Bottling Co.
The Day the Soda Died
A-Treat was founded in 1918 by brothers Jack and Joseph Egizio in their family’s Allentown, PA garage.
The company opened a manufacturing plant in 1932 on Union Boulevard in the city, where it produced as many as 25 varieties and grew to become a strong regional brand and also was available in pockets throughout the country.
But A-Treat fell on hard times in the last decade or so, and its plant was abruptly shuttered in January 2015.
To the Rescue
Then the good news. The Jaindl family, which runs a large turkey farm in Orefield, PA, and land development and real estate operations, was going to take over the brand.
It had the knowledge of the food industry, the network of distributors and the finances to make it work.
The Jaindl Companies bought the soda brand name, trademark, flavor formulas and related intellectual property and began the work to bring the brand back to its glory days. They used social media to poll its fans on what they wanted as far as flavors and styles and listened to the audience to ensure it was properly bottling people’s memories, along with the soda.
The Big Return
After re-creating the recipes and labels and contracting with the Coca-Cola Bottling Plant of the Lehigh Valley in Bethlehem to bottle the soda, the Jaindl Co. relaunched A-Treat at a massive party at its Orefield headquarters in August 2015.
Sales of the soda were strong right out of the gate. After being out of production for about eight months, there was a pent-up demand and a grateful public excited to once again sip on its favorite A-Treat flavors.
The Jaindls gradually increased their offerings both in flavors and in containers. The soda can now be bought in cans, 2-liter bottles, 20-ounce bottles and certain flavors in specialty glass bottles.
Jaindl noted that the territory is gradually expanding. After getting into the Maryland market, A-Treat is working to establish sales in Florida and Ohio. His goal is to expand into even more states, and he knows nostalgia won’t help in those new markets.
“We think about what’s going to keep them coming back, and that’s consistency and quality,” he said.
He said the company is marketing the soda as “pure,” made with flavor extracts and sugar cane. That – and having a lineup of unusual flavors such as orange cream and blue razz, most of which are still produced using formulas that evolved from the Egizios’ original recipes – should make it a good seller at smaller boutique shops that specialize in craft products with interesting stories.
And A-Treat certainly has an interesting story, from its humble garage beginnings to its complicated, but ultimately triumphant return.