The Natrona Bottling Tradition

Aug 20, 2014

Credit Marcus Charleston / WESA

Whether it’s called soda or pop, consumers can’t get enough of the sweet, carbonated beverage. Here in Pittsburgh the Natrona Bottling Company has been making its brand of specialty beverages for quite some time. In fact, this year marks the company’s 110th anniversary. Vito Gerasole, the “Sultan of Soda,” explains that Natrona’s dedication to product -- rather than profit -- is what makes its drinks so distinctive. For instance, Natrona still puts its sodas in glass bottles, and it uses real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup.

“Basically, we want to give you a good quality product that was produced 110 years ago. Our machinery is 70 years old. … No other soda producer uses this style of carbonation. … This is our defining factor.”

Gerasole says that since he obtained the company back in 2009, business has been growing due to the trend to “buy local” as well as due to loyalty from the community. “Pittsburgh has been great to us. The community has been fantastic. The people really care about keeping local traditions alive. Last month, in July, we had our best month ever, and it was all local business.”

As his company’s 110th anniversary nears, Gerasole plans to work to expand the Red Ribbon brand while working to maintain the tradition of Natrona Bottling.