Skull Talk: A Small Mountain Soda Company

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Hosmer Mountain Soda did not start off as a soda company; it started as a fresh spring water delivery company. It was founded in 1912 in Willimantic, Connecticut by W.E. Clark1. The company went through two other owners before the fourth, Arthur J. Potvin, transformed it.

In 1958, Potvin bought the company and along with his sons, Bill, John, Andy, and Chuck began to broaden their horizons beyond just water. Using dry ice to get CO2 and bags of sugar, they began to handcraft sodas2. The process took time. Potvin would test his recipe until it was just right, recording it on a notecard for further use and experimentation.

Soon, Potvin faced the choice of continuing to deliver water or switching to soda production instead. He decided on a yet third option, choosing to keep the fresh spring water delivery and offering home delivery of soda, as well.

There was another choice Potvin had to make; it was the choice to switch from glass bottles to plastic, since plastic was becoming more readily available3. Potvin chose to keep using glass bottles, because of two reasons. First, plastic was still very expensive, with the development of cheap variant years away. Second, glass bottles were reusable. Glass bottles became Hosmer Mountain Soda Company’s selling point as the process of reusing the bottles kept overhead prices low. To encourage the customers to recycle their bottles, the company put a five-cent deposit on each one. Potvin enforced this policy, even before Connecticut state law required deposits on bottles.

Hosmer Mountain Soda continues to thrive in Eastern Connecticut, offering thirty varieties of soda flavors, including birch beer, a New England favorite. The company also offers tonics, seltzers, a monthly special soda, and of course bottled fresh spring water.

The original store is located at 217 Mountain Street, Willimantic, CT, and is open Monday through Saturday. A second location at 15 Spencer Street, Manchester, CT is open Tuesday through Saturday. Hosmer continues to deliver soda and water to the area around Eastern Connecticut through use of their online ordering tool at http://www.hosmersoda.com.

 

References 

1. Carolyn Battista, “The View From: Hosmer Mountain in Willimantic; Bottlers Who Keep On Making Soda With Old-Fashioned Fizz,” New York Times, August 9, 1992, accessed July 31 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/1992/08/09/nyregion/view-hosmer-mountain-willimantic-bottlers-who-keep-making-soda-with-old.html.

2. “Hosmer Mountain Soda » Our History,” Hosmer Mountain Soda Company, accessed July 31, 2015. http://hosmersoda.com/our-history/.

3. Bellis, Mary. “History and Timeline of Soft Drinks.” About.com Inventors, accessed July 31, 2015. http://inventors.about.com/od/sstartinventions/a/soft_drink.htm.

 

Michael Honore
Associate Editor



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