Classic Double Cola: Hometown soda comes to local stores in glass bottles

Classic Double Cola: Hometown soda comes to local stores in glass bottles

March 18th, 2015 by Alex Green in Business Around the Region

Double Cola sits on an end cap at the Publix on North Market Street.

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

When you walk into the North Shore Publix, there's an end-cap display at the front of the store featuring peanuts, Cheetos and four-packs of Chattanooga's own Double Cola, in clear 12-ounce glass bottles.

Double Cola just rolled out the vintage soda packages at the downtown grocer and at the St. Elmo and Lee Highway BI-LO stores.

The flagship line has been available at Cracker Barrel restaurants around the country for a while, but it's been a challenge finding the Chattanooga soda while in downtown Chattanooga, despite the company maintaining its headquarters on Market Street.

It's been an issue of distribution.

Megan Hallar, spokeswoman for Double Cola, said Tuesday the company's recently minted partnership with distributor Budweiser of Chattanooga has allowed Double Cola to get into these new areas and stores.

"We're really trying to expand our portfolio in our hometown," she said. "Local consumers resonate so well with our glass bottles with pure cane sugar, and we frequently get calls asking for where they're available to purchase."

Tourists who are familiar with the brand and making a visit to the city have also reached out wanting to know how to get a hold of the hometown soda.

"It's good to have locations near downtown for the tourists to be able to pick up their favorite Double Cola package," said Hallar.

The secret Double Cola recipe is held at a testing facility in Chattanooga. Double Cola has been in the city since 1922, when Charles D. Little and Joe S. Foster started The Good Grape Co. to market their soda, Good Grape.

The company and its product changed names and looks a few times before the name Double-Cola finally stuck in 1933. The manufacturer -- going by Seminole Flavor Co. at the time -- felt like it perfected its formula and rolled out 12-ounce bottles of what it called Double-Cola, because most sodas at the time came in six-ounce packaging.

Double Cola sits on an end cap at the Publix on North Market Street.

Double Cola sits on an end cap at...

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

Double Cola today markets its products as local, high-quality soda options.

Jim Groover, store manager at the North Shore Publix, said when his store opened in August, he began asking about getting Double Cola products on the shelves.

"We really wanted to get it in here," he said.

Groover liked the idea of a local grocery store carrying a local product. It took some time, but this week he finally got his wish.

"We figured we'd put them front and center," he said.

Tuesday afternoon, the store put together a Double Cola and MoonPie display.

"Because they're both Chattanooga products, we wanted to have a nice little Chattanooga display," said Groover.

Hallar said Double Cola aims to appeal to young and middle-age soda drinkers, to people who grew up drinking Double Cola and those who have never tried it.

The glass bottle four-pack is "here to stay," she said.

Double Cola is working to expand the footprint of the line, also.

"Essentially, we feel that Double Cola is a way to get our foot in the door and then show the other brands what we have to offer in glass," said Hallar. "In the future, we hope to eventually add 12-packs and two-liters."

Double Cola unveiled new branding and packaging in 2012, in an attempt to freshen-up the product. Double Cola is essentially a craft soda maker, without the big budget and exposure of giants like Cola-Cola and Pepsi Co.

But craft is increasingly popular with younger consumers, evident in the rise of microbrew beers across the country. Double Cola participated in the BI-LOcal program last year as a local soda maker and introduced new products to the region.

"We are proud to support local companies like Double Cola and share in the excitement when they roll out new offering for our customers," said Daryl Massey, local district dirctor for BI-LO. "We hope to increase distribution of the [glass bottle line] to other Bi-Lo stores in the area over the coming weeks."

Double Cola has announced several changes in the last year, including the switch to Budweiser of Chattanooga as distributor and the return of products like Ski, Ski InfraRED, Double-Dry Ginger Ale, QUAD Energy, MINOKU Coconut Water and Chaser.

Contact staff writer Alex Green at agreen@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.