Here's some from my weekend column and a goofy Web teaser video I did on a busy street corner about Spring Grove Pop, a local favorite of soda sippers.
What's your favorite Spring Grove flavor? Do you drink it straight or use it as a mixer with a more adult beverage?
Things are popping this year in Spring Grove as the town's 116-year-old soda maker is hitting the big time on the West Coast.
The tiny Spring Grove Soda Pop company loaded up 31,104 glass bottles, or 1,296 cases, onto a truck right before Christmas and sent the shipment to a distributor in California.
"That's the largest shipment we've ever sent out, and we've never went that far before," says Spring Grove co-owner and sole full-time employee Dawn Hansen.
In fact, the big order from Garvey Nut & Candy in Pico Rivera, Calif., meant a lot of extra hours and work to bottle it up in addition to filling the company's regular orders.
But Hansen and her husband, Robert Hansen, aren't complaining. It was a great way to end the year, which was the soda maker's biggest ever, with 18,000 cases of its cane sugar-flavored strawberry, cream soda, creamy orange, grape, lemon sour, root beer and black cherry drinks sold.
The Hansens bought the historic bottler in 2003.
"It is looking better each year. It is growing," says Dawn Hansen.
And now the small-town soda is hitting the streets of L.A. and Las Vegas. Garvey Nut is putting it on the shelves of the hot nostalgia soda and candy shop chain Rocket Fizz Soda Pop Shop. The rapidly growing Rocket Fizz s pecializes in old-fashioned sweets and classic, glass-bottled soda. It has 13 stores, mostly on the West Coast, but it is expanding toward the Midwest.
Mark Rollins, the soda guy for the Garvey d istribution company, says he has been watching Spring Grove for a while. When he stepped into the role of buying for Rocket Fizz, Rollins says, he knew it was time to give the Minnesota soda company a try.
"I keep an eye out for unique beverages that have never had exposure on the West Coast," he says.
As he was helping unload the Spring Grove shipment, Rollins says, his instinct was confirmed.
"I got a call on my cell from the warehouse, where we sell directly to customers. They said somebody had shown up there looking to buy some," he says. "I guess the word had gotten out to the Minnesota fans that Spring Grove was coming to the West Coast."
Rollins says he'll probably be ordering another truckload soon to keep Rocket Fizz stocked.
If that becomes a regular deal, this kind of buzz could keep business bubbling at Spring Grove Soda Pop.
With sugar prices skyrocketing, that's good news for the Hansens.
"It is looking like it is turning around," she says.