Ale-8-One Turns 89

New packaging, mission statement mark regional soda's anniversary


WINCHESTER, Ky. -- Regional soft drink company Ale-8-One Bottling Co. celebrated its 89th anniversary this week. The company first introduced the soda at the Clark County Fair in central Kentucky on July 13, 1926.

Using its heritage for inspiration, Ale-8 has designed the non-returnable glass and plastic bottles to reflect the look of the iconic returnable bottle.

A vintage designed stamp describes the flavor profile: crisp, clean real ginger with a hint of citrus, and incorporates a revived Ale-8 slogan dating back to the 1940s: “For bracing pep.” It added the voluntary Clear on Calories logo to the front panel for transparency.

The packaging also communicates that the secret formula has not changed.

“The time is right to share our brand,” said Fielding Rogers, CEO of Ale-8-One Bottling, Winchester, Ky. “For those unfamiliar with Ale-8, we wanted to better communicate our proud heritage, great story and flavor profile.”

The company said that the can, wrapped in a picture of the Red River Gorge, will be referred to as the “Un-common Can." It will feature the same additions as the non-returnable glass and plastic bottles, but will more prominently showcase the Gorge image. It will carry through this same image to the can wrap and the handle of the six-pack glass carton.

“Like Ale-8, the Red River Gorge is a Bluegrass [State] gem to those in the know--a retreat off the beaten path, where cherished memories are made. We’ve added this refreshing image that carries the marketing campaign, 'One sip, and you’re there'," said Ellen McGeeney, president and COO of Ale-8-One Bottling.

Customers can expect to see the new packaging within the next six months.

In addition to packaging updates, the branding work included the addition of the first mission statement for the 113-year-old company. Again, reaching into the past for inspiration, the company mission captures qualities of the long-neck returnable bottle. Returnable bottles contain twice as much glass and are built to last. They are an almost lost treasure: Ale-8 is one of the last remaining companies in the United States to still accept glass bottles returned for deposit, to rewash, refill and reuse. They harken back to a time when businesses were more values driven, trusting that profits would come if they held true to their values. Thus, the Ale-8 Mission Statement: “Return for Deposit: We Believe in Returning a Deposit Made in Good Faith.”

“It was important that we have a mission statement to guide our decision-making and behavior as we look to expand,” said McGeeney, the first president outside of the family to run Ale-8-One. “Fielding’s business model is not industry standard. He’s the fourth-generation owner and treats his employees like family. The company values are as important as maintaining the bottom line, and profitable growth that is steady and sustainable.”