Thursday, May 13, 2021

I have a question about Real Fruit Black Raspberry Soda

This 4⅛-inch-wide label is for National's Real Fruit Black Raspberry Soda. My question is regarding the "Real Fruit" aspect of this beverage. When I look at the ingredients on the label, I see: carbonated filtered water, pure cane sugar, imitation flavor and certified color.

None of those ingredients indicates "Real Fruit." Hmm. Oh well, I'm pretty sure I'd still have enjoyed a cold bottle of this flavor. It was one of many National offered.

National Soda and Beer of Bayonne, New Jersey, didn't quite make it to 100 years of existence. It began in 1922 and closed up shop for good with an estate sale in 2019. (It had halted distribution in 2017.)

In November 2019, Teri West of The Jersey Journal wrote about its farewell. Here are some excerpts:
  • Conrad Targonski founded National Soda. "Like many American entrepreneurs, Targonski was an immigrant, born in Poland in 1888. He opened the factory in 1922, a competitive time for soda manufacturing. In the early decades, there were eight other soda factories in Bayonne"
  • Targonski’s son-in-law, Henry Wisolmerski, took over the company and it eventually transitioned from manufacturing to just distribution in the 1980s.
  • "Rich Wisolmerski says he started working at the family company at age three, counting bottles. It was only years later that he realized his first 'job' was just a ruse his father invented to keep him occupied." He grew up to become the third generation of the family to run the company, and was the one who brought it to a close. “I shed tears when I had to close,” Rich Wisolmerski told The Jersey Journal. “It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.”

The National Soda and Beer Facebook page is still up. Its most recent (and likely final) posts are from that estate sale in November 2019. Here are a few comments from the November 23, 2017, post announcing the warehouse closure:
  • "My grandparents would buy their soda in the early 70’s, all different flavors so there were a pretty cool variety of colors."
  • "My in laws always had a wooden case on the floor in the foyer with a variety of your soda in it." 
  • "Wow...such a cherished part of my childhood. My Grandmother had 34 grandchildren- she would buy cases of your soda with all different flavors."
  • "My Dad would stop there while we sat in the car. He would bring a case to my Grandparents because we didn’t drink soda at home... loved the cream soda"
Does anyone out there, especially from the New Jersey region, have memories of National Soda and Beer? Please share in the comments section. I suspect they're good ones, and that you don't mind one bit that there was no real fruit.

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