Summer 2016 – No. 18
by Lisa Sands
photo by Shane Wynn
Michael Considine can’t keep his enthusiasm for soda pop bottled up. The Akron-based entrepreneur is enjoying sweet success reviving NORKA, a classic soda that his father recalls drinking as a young boy. In case you missed it, the soda’s unusual and memorable name is AKRON spelled backwards.
“My dad and I were having lunch at an Akron RubberDucks game at Canal Park. I noticed a mural featuring nostalgic art and a sign for NORKA Sparkling Beverages,” Considine said. “My dad shared that he remembered drinking the orange flavor.”
Michael started doing some research and learned that after nearly a 40-year run, NORKA dissolved rather suddenly. Trademarks and patents were available, but he didn’t have much to go on, aside from an ingredient list and some original bottles and packaging. There was no way he could taste the original products, either.
Undaunted, Michael set out to bring back the soda. A former executive in the energy drink business, he called on his expertise and contacts. Working with Allen Flavors Inc. they devised new, slightly updated recipes for NORKA’s signature flavors: cherry-strawberry, root beer, ginger ale and orange.
During the development of NORKA, Michael discovered that his grandmother, Gene, now 91, was childhood best friends with Olive Paquin, the daughter of NORKA’s founder. And that wasn’t the only sign that stars were aligning. Serendipitously, 90 years to the day that the original NORKA soda pop founder sold his first case, Michael incorporated NORKA Food & Beverage LLC as a craft soda company, on May 7, 2014.
Word traveled fast about the novelty, small-batch beverage. NORKA’s resurgence was fueled by mentions in USA Today and Country Living, and Michael started to get inquiries from across the country. Craft sodas were already trending out west, Michael explains, and he knew Northeast Ohio would be a receptive market for his small-batch artisan product.
However, some of NORKA’s biggest fans are the people who remember the beverage of their childhood.
“It invokes such great memories from the generation that remembers it and we’re introducing it to a younger audience. It’s a soda for all ages,” Considine said.
Locally, NORKA can be found at Giant Eagle, Acme Fresh Market, and some independent stores, cafes, and restaurants. In the near future, Michael expects NORKA Sparkling Soda to expand into Pennsylvania, and the company will produce two new flavors—cream soda and lemon-lime.
Learn more about Akron’s namesake (almost) soda at NorkaBeverage.com.