The history of Coca Cola in Red Deer

This year marks an interesting centennial event.

It was 100 years ago, in 1915, that the famous contour bottle used ever since by the Coca Cola Company was patented by the Root Glass Company in Terre Haute, Indiana.

About the same time, the first bottles of Coca Cola started to be sold in Red Deer.

The first retail outlets were local drugstores such as Gaetz Cornett.

Red Deer Bottling had been established in Red Deer in 1911.

However, the original company, which was owned by A.J. Pingrey and F.L. Brown, manufactured their own soft drinks and ‘aerated waters’ in a plant on Gaetz Avenue, south of Alexander (48) St.

Their prize product was ‘Jersey Crème’, which they described as a, ‘pleasant and healthful beverage’.

The First World War and its aftermath brought enormous challenges. During the War, there was strict rationing of sugar.

After the War, local unemployment soared to more than 20%. Money became very tight. People only spent what they absolutely had to. The first Red Deer Bottling plant consequently closed.

In March 1927, Con and Natale Maggiora reestablished Red Deer Bottling.

The two brothers had run soft drink manufacturing plants in B.C. The new Red Deer plant was initially located in the old Palace Livery building, on the south side of First Street South (49 Street), west of Gaetz Avenue.

The Maggioras saw Prohibition, with its severe restrictions on alcohol, as a wonderful opportunity to sell soft drinks.

They advertised that their products could be, “Used for the benefit of all without any deleterious results.”

The timing of their arrival in Red Deer was excellent.

Consequently, in 1928, Red Deer Bottling moved to better premises in a two-storey brick building on Gaetz Avenue and Second Street South (48 Street).

Red Deer Bottling’s specialties in those days were Delaware Punch, a grape drink, a ginger beer made from Jamaica ginger and a variety of lemon, orange and cream sodas.

In 1933, Romano Truant, formerly of Nordegg, bought out Natale Maggiora.

In 1934, he purchased the remaining shares of the business from Con Maggiora. He introduced such new products as Calade, a ‘nectar of tree-ripe oranges’ and ‘Canuck Dry Ginger Ale’.

In 1936, the Coca Cola franchise was secured.

However, because of the Great Depression, there was a slow start to this new venture. Only eight gallons of syrup were used in the first six months.

Fortunately, things soon picked up. Within a year, more than one hundred gallons of syrup were used.

The Second World War brought a new set of challenges. Again there was rationing of sugar. Nevertheless, with large numbers of military personnel training at the A-20 Army Camp in Red Deer and at the Penhold Airbase and with many others moving to the community, business flourished.

In January 1942, Red Deer Bottling moved to a new brick building on the corner of Gaetz Avenue and 46 Street. At the official opening, 1,188 bottles of Coke were handed out to more than 800 children and a number of adults.

The good times continued after the War.

Romano Truant was joined in the business by his two sons, Alfio and Dino. The Gaetz Avenue plant was expanded in 1953.

In 1976, the company discontinued bottling operations and moved to a 10,000 sq. ft. warehouse and distribution centre in the Golden West Industrial area. With the addition of even more new products and with a tremendous increase in business, another move followed in 1986 to a 24,000 sq. ft. building on a five acre site at 6730 64 Ave.

In 2001, Red Deer Bottling moved to an impressive new facility in the Edgar Industrial Park. The Company now markets more than 50 different flavours of soft drinks. A separate company, M.A.C. Munchies, also supplies vending machines throughout Central Alberta.

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