Lydia Martin of the Miami Herald wrote on July 22nd about how several Latin American sodas have found their niche markets, thriving by catering to the nostalgic tastes home of many Hispanic Immigrants. They have claimed a mountain their own (a narrowly defined category for basically each drink), doing great business there, while letting the big boys battle it out on their own.
[In Miami] Coke and Pepsi may have the muscle, but they don't have the emotional pull of the little guys who crowd together on a couple of measly shelves but do a fine job of holding their own.
Coke may be the real thing. Pepsi may claim its own generation. But Materva and Ironbeer from Cuba, Inca Kola from Peru, Ting from Jamaica, Milca from Nicaragua, Guaraná from Brazil, the maltas, the kola champagnes -- they have plenty of juice in a town where the craving for a taste of home can overcome global marketing, fountain and vending-machine domination and even Britney-Beyoncé tactics.
The little guys don't suffer from product-postioning envy. They know they have their audience by the nostalgia.
''We have a few billboards,'' shrugs Vince Cossio, head of Cawy, the Miami company that owned lemon-lime palates in Cuba. When Castro's government intervened, the owners fled to South Florida, registered the trademark and got back to business without missing a beat.
By the mid-1960s, they were also churning out two other major Cuban brands that were once competitors. With Materva (a fragrant, apple cidery, cream soda-ish drink with a mythical power to aid digestion) and Jupiña (pineapple with fizz), Cawy cornered the market on potions that soothed the hearts of Cuban exiles.
Ironbeer, with a sort of citrusy Dr. Pepper quality, claims to retain its original flavor, too.
Says the can: ``On a summer's afternoon, in 1917, a mule-drawn, wooden wagon arrived at a popular cafeteria in Havana, Cuba. It delivered the first four cases of a new soft drink that would soon be called The National Beverage.''
Owner Pedro Blanco bought the formula from original owners in 1960, according to company spokeswoman Teresa Trujillo. There's no iron in Ironbeer. No beer, either. And even though it has a dark cola color, no caffeine.
So what's with the muscle man on the can?
''That was people way back in the old days, who thought you could get strong drinking soda,'' Trujillo said.
Read the entire article at The Miami Herald