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Gourmet Bubbly

. . . and we're not talking champagne.

Today, soda has done anything but fizzle out--especially with an emerging trend captivating the carbonated beverage consumer known as the "micro-soda."

Sub-category creator Urban Juice & Soda Co. in Vancouver, British Columbia, for one, distributes a motley line of taste-bud-tickling, sticky-sweet bottles of pop called Jones Soda. These microbrewed beverages, distributed in the United States and Canada at premium prices (as high as $1.59 per bottle, as opposed to the average soda price of $1) captivate consumers with their retro long-neck glass bottles and intriguing labels, as well as their neon rainbow of flavors, including Blue Bubble Gum and Green Apple.

Fitz's Bottling Co., based in University City, Missouri, is also getting in on the trend, taking its line of premium sodas to the next level by offering them in the company's own full-service diners. Fitz's Soda Bar and Grill, with two locations in Missouri, features a fully operational bottling line for brewing premium goods for parched patrons. The soda is also distributed in Kansas City, Missouri.

The appeal of micro-brewed soda is its uniqueness--the kitschy labeling, the tasty mix of flavors, the limited channel of distribution. With Americans gulping twice as much pop as they did 25 years ago and spending $54 billion on it each year, it's apparent soda-lovers will happily embrace this flavorful niche.

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This article was originally published in the September 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Gourmet Bubbly.

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