Buffalo beverage staple gets new sparkle - UPDATE w/INTERVIEW
blog by Ben Tsujimoto • March 26, 2013 @ 1:02pm
Growing up in suburban Western New York, I’m pretty sure I was more curious than the typical child. As part of a family that adored chains—for some reason—I always found myself gazing at the fountain drink options, occasionally shooting devious looks around to figure out if I could sample more than one without an employee noticing. A curious deviant, you can see.
What I never understood, though, was why loganberry wasn’t quite like Barq’s, Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew. Sure, it was sweet, fruity and gave me a powerful jolt of energy, but it never made my tongue tickle with those little bubbles (which I later learned meant “carbonation.”) Twenty years later, I’m pleased to report that loganberry has ceased being the “ugly duckling” of pops.
Last weekend, PJ’s Crystal Beach released the first-ever sparkling loganberry—only available in Buffalo and its suburbs—which was greeted warmly by local beverage enthusiasts Thirsty Dudes.
Was it worth the wait? Most definitely! While this is a sparkling drink, it’s very lightly carbonated which is really nice. The cane sugar also makes it very light and lets the loganberry flavor shine through. All my life I’ve been drinking loganberry that was drowning in corn syrup, so it’s nice to finally be able to taste loganberry for what it is. The light and fruity taste reminds me a lot of Izze drinks, or HotLips soda.
After a phone call with Matt Spillane, director of sales and marketing for Coca-Cola Buffalo, we learned that PJ’s Crystal Beach sparkling loganberry blends innovation with nostalgia—while the “sparkling” nature of the beverage is new, it’s sold in four-packs of retro 12 oz. glass bottles instead of two-liters or 12-pack cans.
“[The reverence for nostalgia] is a nod to what another local brand, Johnny Ryan, has been doing,” Spillane explained. “Plus it’s a different way for us to take our brand.” PJ’s Crystal Beach offers the original loganberry drink, diet loganberry, loganberry syrup and now sparkling loganberry.
If you’ve never tried loganberry—first of all, you’re a delinquent Buffalonian—but here’s the official description of the taste, courtesy of loganberry.com:
The rich, fresh tasting flavor of the loganberry, a real berry that is a cross between a ripe and tasty blackberry and a red raspberry will leave you thirsting for more.
Spillane notes that the taste of the sparkling beverage is a slight departure from the original version, which the Coca-Cola Buffalo associate admits is “overpowering” to some consumers.
“It’s definitely a lighter taste profile, yet it’s still not fully carbonated,” Spillane reflected. “It opens up the flavor to a broader audience.”
Also from the phone interview we learned that three out of every four bottles of loganberry in Western New York are produced by PJ’s Crystal Beach, as former WNY-staple Aunt Rosie’s—a Pepsi-Cola Buffalo product—has experienced a steady decline over the last five years and is barely found in the region anymore.
You could always spend $17 + shipping on a six-pack of Aunt Rosie’s, though.