30 March 2011

Gassy Galore

We are all too familiar with soft drinks like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Sprite, bottled by Fraser & Neave in Singapore, a household brand that we see almost without fail every festive period, especially occasions like Chinese New Year.

However, there are still some novelty drinks loved among older generation of Singaporeans today, a throw back to the old days, drinks with names like Kickapoo Joy Juice, Sinalco, Sarsi (together with Kickapoo are two of my all-time favourites together with A&W Rootbeer! How i missed the A&W restuarants, BRING THEM BACK!!), Green Spot and RC Cola (Royal Crown Cola), the last two now seemingly 'extinct' here in the country.

Old drink bottles seen at the Singapore Food Trail, Singapore Flyer

Old drink bottles seen at the Singapore Food Trail, Singapore Flyer

Ladies at one of the aerated water plants

And to mention Kickapoo, the drink was recently being promoted with ads at bus stop billboards. Doing a little research, we found out there was a backstory to the strange looking cartoon found on the green can. It was introduced by the cartoonist named Al Capp, in a cartoon strip called Li'l Abner.

The characters on the can concocting a brew, were Lonesome Polecat and Hairless Joe, two of the comic strip's backwood poachers. The drink was introduced in 1965 and from the looks of recent advertising; it's still being distributed in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and Bangladesh today by Pokka Corporation.

Kickapoo advertising, Pokka logo can be seen on the bottom corner

Further research into the history of aerated drinks in Singapore, we discover there were a few companies in the past, two of them are mentioned by Victor Koo (His writeups on Phoenix Aerated Waters and Framroz Aerated Waters can be viewed in the links provided below). The other being the National Aerated Water company, the owners of the nice looking art-deco styled building along Serangoon Road.

Aerated Water Company in 1986

An excerpt from a teacher's historical research on National Aerated Water company for his students:

National Aerated Water Company was founded in 1929 by Mr Yap Shing Min, Mr Cheng Sze Boo and Mr Tan Kah Woo. The company introduced Sinalco, a soft drink from then West Germany, in 1952 after it obtained exclusive rights to bottle and distribute it in Malaya and Singapore.

Besides the opening of the Serangoon Road factory, National Aerated Water set up another plant in Petaling Jaya. The company's statistics showed sales increased 30 per cent every year and in 1963, 1.3 million bottles of Sinalco were sold in Malaysia. National Aerated Water continued its bottling business till the 1990s.

We couldn't resist making a short visit to the outside of the former bottling plant to capture a few photos for memory's sake. Fearing it might not be there for long if the company decides to sell off their property.

Aerated Water Company seen from across the road

A peep through the gates, of what could have been the bottling plant area or storage

A small office

Art Deco styled ventilation above the door

A petrol pump for their own vehicles!

More office space in the building at the back of the compound?


A view from above

Updates: Added photos of old drink bottles from Singapore Food Trail at the Singapore Flyer.

More photos from our album here.

References and similar topics:
PHS Teacher Lai Chee Kwan's article of National Aerated Waters
Victor's article on Phoenix Aerated Waters
Victor's article on Framroz Aerated Waters
Victor's quiz on past soft drinks
Char's shot of Framroz at Emerald Hill
Chun See's mention of soft drinks

Article & Photos copyright of Andrew Him

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