Krier Foods adds new flavors to a classic soda

Random Lake firm that revived Jolly Good is now rolling out unique flavors in an effort to rebuild a brand that reminds consumers of their childhoods

FIFTH-GENERATION owner and president of Krier Foods Inc. John Rassel stood beside a bottling station at the Random Lake plant this week. In addition to producing Jolly Good Soda, the company also cans other name brand beverages like Monster Energy.
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press staff

    After reviving its Jolly Good Soda line a couple years ago, Krier Foods Inc. is expanding its profile with two more flavors this summer.
    “We’re rebuilding the brand because it’s something everyone remembers, even after we took a few years off,” John Rassel, owner and president of Krier Foods, said. “We’re trying new things and want to see how the consumers respond.”
    Starting in 1966, the Random Lake-based soda line quickly became a popular regional brand offering about 50 types of soda in Wisconsin with distribution in portions of Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota. But with the advent of energy drinks and other types of soda produced by national brands the company was quietly discontinued in 2007.
    Since 2016, Jolly Good has been making a comeback, and the company is tapping into a specific market to produce unique flavors that aren’t offered by other companies.
    “The brand of Jolly Good is what we like to call very flavor-centric,” Rassel said. “What we like to focus on is a niche that other soda companies don’t fill by offering different and unique flavors that go away from the normal cola.”
    This summer, Jolly Good added blue raspberry and pina colada to their list of permanent flavors. Rassel said the flavors were introduced near the end of the company’s initial run but weren’t on the shelves for very long.
    “With this being the summer, we felt it was a good time to add the new flavors because they are definitely warm season flavors,” Rassel said. “We felt the timing was right and decided to give it a try. They’re just hitting store shelves right now.”
    The two flavors ranked among the top in a flavor poll conducted two years ago, and will be in good company with six other flavors produced by Jolly Good that include grape, fruit punch, cherry, orange, cream soda and Sour Pow’r.
    For a lot of consumers, Rassel said, Jolly Good’s resurgence is an opportunity to relive family memories. It takes them back to a simpler time and provides an opportunity for parents and grandparents to share memories with younger generations.
    “Jolly Good was a staple brand that a lot of people in Wisconsin grew up with,” he said. “For us at Krier Foods, it’s very humbling to be part of everyone else’s family. We’re centered around family because we’re a family-owned company.”
    Rassel, the fifth-generation owner of Krier Foods, took over the business in 2015 after his uncle Bruce Krier died of cancer. Before Krier’s death in 2013, the two were considering bringing back the soda company. Rassel decided to make it happen in 2016 in homage to his late uncle.
    With the rise in craft beer and retro brands like Schlitz beer, Rassel believes there is a desire for locally sourced products.
    The revival of the soda company is the latest chapter for Krier Foods, which opened as a vegetable canning facility in 1913 and was canning fruit drinks by the 1960s, when it became one of the first drink processors in the country to begin canning Coca-Cola.
    Over the years, the company has produced non-alcoholic drinks for a number of brands, including Pepsi, Monster Energy, Ocean Spray, Welch’s and Old Orchard.
    “Manufacturing and packaging beverages is what we do, and it speaks to the necessities that Krier Foods provides,” Rassel said. “There are a lot of opportunities for Krier Foods to be a relevant co-factor in the beverage industry.”
    Rassel said it is rare for a family company to stay in operation for this long.
    “It’s very humbling. Most businesses the size of Krier Foods don’t make it past the third generation,” he said. “The fact that Krier Foods has been able to provide to families and the community for over 100 years says a lot.”
    In order to promote its sodas, the company is building a strong social media following to market to younger demographics.
     “The generation that really remembers Jolly Good probably isn’t as active on social media compared to younger generations, but we want to attract younger consumers who might not know about us,” Rassel said.  
    He said he is considering putting out more flavors in the future, but for now Jolly Good is focused on maintaining strong sales with the products they have.
    “If we release more flavors, they will be specific to the flavor-centric palette. The Cokes and Pepsis dominate the colas of the world,” Rassel said. “We’ll listen to our consumers and try to give them what they want.”
    Rassel, who is in his 30s, said the company is in good hands for years to come. He has his sights set on passing the business to his two nieces when his time comes to retire.
    “They’re very young so we’ll see what happens, but I think they’ll want to carry on the family legacy,” he said.

 

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