Local History and Genealogy

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pokagon Pop

Anyone who lived in Steuben County anytime between the 1920's and the early 1970's remembers Pokagon Pop.

"The Pokagon Beverage Company was started by Charles Rodebaugh.  He purchased the Angola Bottling Works in 1925.  The years cover exact details like dust but Charlie's daughter Carol, knows this much: her grandfather, Charlie's father-in-law, didn't approve.  Samuel Moss owned a general store in downtown Angola.  He built the beautiful South Wayne Street house that would become the Rodebaugh home; his brother and business partner built a house directly across the street.
But when Charlie, a World War I veteran asked Samuel for a loan to go into the soda water business, "My grandfather didn't think he would make it," said Carol.    

Charlie started small, producing pop in a small barn on South Kinney Street, delivering his product in horse-pulled wagons.  Carol remembered the first bottles; round-bottomed so that they could stand only when placed in their wooden delivery box. In those days she said, Charlie bottled and capped the pop by hand.

The business grew.  In 1929, the barn bowed to a building on Gilmore Street, motorized trucks overtook horses and Angola Bottling Works became Pokagon Beverage Company.  Chief Pokagon, the Potawatomi  who befriended early area settlers, became the logo for the bottles, delivery truck doors, and insignias on workers shirts.

The soda flavors were orange, root beer, cola, grape, strawberry, cherry, grapefruit, creme soda and lemon-lime which was called Life. Life was nationally distributed in a green bottle with red lettering.

Pokagon Pop!  It lives on in the memories because it became such a big part of everyday life in Angola."

Excerpts taken from Lee Sauer Evening Star Newspaper,  August 26, 1994 pg A1 and A9

Pokagon Beverage Company float, probably in Fisherman's Jubilee about 1938
Picture courtesy of Evening Star August 26, 1994 Pg A1  

 Picture of the Pokagon Beverage Company truck around 1938.