Akron’s fizzy past returns: Norka soda pop is back
By Katie Byard
Beacon Journal business writer
Like many in the area, Michael Considine, 37, is too young to have ever cracked open a bottle of Norka, Akron’s very own soda that ceased production in 1962.
Yet, Considine is reviving the iconic brand, whose name is Akron spelled backward, and this week his Norka Food and Beverage LLC began selling four flavors of soda pop, all adorned with a label that bears a logo very similar to the original for the company that traces its roots to 1924.
Some in the area with fond memories of Akron’s fizzy past will remember the red-and-white logo with the big “N.”
“The Norka name is just catchy,” Considine said. “This is something that has legs outside of Akron.”
West Point Market is the first store at which the soda is available. The independent grocery in West Akron, which specializes in gourmet and specialty items, got its first shipment of the resurrected brand’s first flavors: cherry-strawberry, ginger ale, orange and root beer.
Larry Uhl, president of West Point Market, said stocking the soda made sense. “He’s trying to bring back an iconic brand from Akron, and he’s using really superior ingredients.”
Considine said cane sugar is used — no-high fructose corn syrup — and natural flavorings. The drinks are caffeine free.
He couldn’t find Norka’s original recipes, so he worked with consultants to come up with new ones.
Soon, Considine’s Norka soda will be available at other local spots such as Diamond Deli and the Peanut Shoppe in downtown Akron.
“I want this to start small, and we’ll grow into the chains,” he said.
The soda is made and bottled at contract packaging company CSD Copackers in Scranton, Pa. It’s being distributed by Heidelberg Distributing Co. Considine said he’d love for some of the flavors to be made locally at some point in the future.
The soda isn’t cheap. It runs $7.99 for a four-pack and $1.99 for a bottle. Considine said those prices are in line with other small-batch sodas.
Considine, an Akron resident, is new to the world of what he calls “craft soda,” but not to the beverage industry. Previously, he worked in operations/production at an area company that makes two caffeinated so-called energy drinks.
He had not heard of Norka soda until one day last year when he and his father, Bill Considine, president and chief executive officer of Akron Children’s Hospital, were having lunch in downtown Akron at the Game Grill + Bar at Canal Park stadium, home of the Akron RubberDucks minor-league team.
Michael Considine was intrigued by an image of a Norka sign that is part of a mural at the restaurant and was schooled on the soda by his father.
“I just jumped on it,” he said, “and registered the trademarks. They were available.”
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