Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Pic-A-Pop pops up on store shelves

Resurrected soft drink sold as premium brand

  • Print
Bart Hruda is riding a rainbow-coloured wave of nostalgia.

After an initial run of 10,000 bottles of a reincarnated Pic-A-Pop in late 2005, the owner of the iconic soft drink brand is hoping to sell 500,000 bottles this year. He's banking on many consumers wanting to reconnect with their childhoods and harken back to trips to the Pic-A-Pop store where they'd fill up plastic orange crates with Cream Soda, Lemon Lime and Blue Raspberry and grab a bottle opener so they could tickle their tastebuds with their favourite discount soda.

But enabling customers to step into their own private time machines has proven more difficult than Hruda originally thought. Even though he has the recipes for the more than 40 flavours produced by Pic-A-Pop over its quarter-century run that began out of Winnipeg in 1971 -- plus numerous still-capped bottles of pop from before it shut down in 1996 -- nailing down the precise taste and colours has been tricky. Most of the suppliers that provided ingredients to the original Pic-A-Pop are no longer in business.

He likened the constant experimentation to having a family recipe for chocolate chip cookies. "Even though everybody else in your family has it, somehow your mom's cookies are always a little better," he said.

Hruda is confident a new relationship with Angostura Canada, which has been producing and bottling the product for a couple of months, has enabled him to come as close as possible to recreating the authentic taste, look and feel of Pic-A-Pop. He said his previous co-packing arrangement with Hanover Springs Ltd., a water bottler in Marchand, Man., was fine during the early days but it didn't work when production requirements ramped up.

Hruda said he was confident of working with Angostura because of its co-packing arrangments with some of the biggest beverage companies in the world.

"If Smirnoff says Angostura is capable of bottling their product, I felt Pic-A-Pop was in pretty good hands," he said.

Horace Bhopalsingh, president of Angostura Canada, said the next batch of Pic-A-Pop will start rolling off its lines before the end of the month. He said he was interested in Hruda's pitch in part because the plant had some excess capacity but also because Pic-A-Pop would be yet another unique product on its shelf.

"Pic-A-Pop is a Manitoba icon, it's nostalgic for a lot of people," he said.

Bhopalsingh said his staff is focused on ensuring the Pic-A-Pop recipes are of high quality and consistency.

"We've worked with Bart to develop and enhance all the flavours and make them better tasting. We introduced the new bottle and referred him to a label supplier. It was a total makeover of the product," he said.

The ressurection of Pic-A-Pop began in 2004 when Hruda was running a pair of Sugar Mountain candy stores, which specialized in retro treats. He said he received so many requests for Pic-A-Pop that he tracked down its last owner in Texas and offered to carry the line if he would relaunch it. The man was retired and not interested in re-entering the beverage game, so he offered to sell the brand to Hruda, who quickly agreed. The first bottles of Pic-A-Pop reappeared on store shelves in the fall of 2005.

Today, Pic-A-Pop is sold at 135 retailers in Manitoba, ranging from Zellers to the Park Theatre to St. Anne's Convenience Store, plus a few dozen more locations in Saskatchewan and northwestern Ontario.

"A lot of transplanted Manitobans in Alberta have contacted me. Our ultimate goal is to see it expand a bit more," he said.

One major difference between now and then is today's Pic-A-Pop has been positioned as a premium brand, selling for about $1.50 a bottle. Even though it's geared towards consumers in their 30s and 40s, Hruda said the younger generation drinks it, too, although their motivation is different.

"They often buy the colour, 'I'll have a pink one or I'll have a blue one,'" he said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 21, 2008 $sourceSection$sourcePage

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Andrew Ladd talks about his injury

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling flaps his wings after taking a bath in the duck pond at St Vital Park Tuesday morning- - Day 21– June 12, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google