Before the holiday chaos ensued, I was lucky enough to snag a cup of Angel Falls coffee with the owner of NORKA Beverage, Michael Considine, to talk about his journey to bring an iconic beverage brand back to life.
Akron’s own, NORKA Beverage, was originally founded in 1924. The factory produced around 24,000 bottles a day for the next 40 years until its demise in the early 60’s. NORKA laid dormant for half a century before being revitalized in 2014 by Considine.
The decision was made to keep the traditional flavors with one small twist… upgrade the recipes by removing all artificial ingredients, and replace them with pure cane sugar and all natural flavorings. This has become a HUGE hit. The reconfigured product has been such a success that you can find NORKA Soda being sold at Target, Acme, Heinen’s, Giant Eagle Market District, and Cracker Barrels around the U.S.
NORKA, (Akron spelled backwards), produces classic flavors like: orange, ginger-ale, cherry-strawberry, rootbeer, and lemon-lime.
New products and flavors will be available shortly! For more information about NORKA, check out the link at the end of this article!
What has your journey been like bringing one of Akron’s most iconic beverages back to life?
“The journey of bringing back NORKA has meant so much to me personally that it’s tough to explain in just a few words. When I first thought of reviving the brand I remember how excited I was to have the opportunity to work on something from my hometown.
Today I still have that same excitement but it’s also a feeling of pride that I was able to give new life to a part of Akron’s past. Having Akron spelled backwards as the name of our brand is an awesome reminder of the connection to our city and the importance of being a local brand. While working to grow NORKA I’m always very proud to talk about Akron and tell our story as it continues to evolve. While not always easy and often a rollercoaster, what this journey has taught me is that there’s something very special about the place we call ‘home’ and the people that are connected to it.
The comeback story for NORKA is unique in that way because of everyone that has been a part of this journey. It’s made this experience even more rewarding to have revived a part of our city’s history with the help and support of the Akron community and beyond.
To think that NORKA will turn 100 in 2024 is also significant and something we will celebrate by taking a look at our history and the events that got us to the century mark. There’s just a lot to be excited about as I look to the future of NORKA and continuing this journey.”
On what is trending in co-packing in 2020:
Labeling and Product Transparency.
Consumers are more label conscious and focused on education. Considine gave the example of a vegan festival that had got in touch with him to verify that the can cane sugar was 100% vegan. He was easily able to contact his vendor and verify the supply chain quickly and get the COA for the sugar and relay that to his contact at the festival.
Response to what is the next big thing NORKA is working on:
NORKA has already done some collaboration work with local breweries such as HIHO Brewery and Sibling Revelry but next up is… delicious popsicles.
They have announced that popsicles will be available in the near future! Customers were mentioning that the Cherry-Strawberry beverage tastes like a melted popsicle, and so they ran with it!
NORKA will also be releasing a new flavor in popsicle form – GRAPE. Once the popsicles launch the new flavor they will bottle it for soda as well!
When asked what sparked his interest in the beverage industry:
With his background in the beverage industry and connections with co-packers, Considine told me he knew he wanted to do something in the beverage space but was waiting for the right opportunity to arise. When out to lunch with his father one day, they came across an old picture of NORKA Beverage, and the rest is living history. He couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring back an iconic company from his hometown.
For more information on NORKA: