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Ironbeer is a soft drink that originated in Cuba in 1917 and was created by Manuel Rabanal. It has been described as tasting like "a fruitier Dr Pepper" or like Ironport soda. After Fidel Castro became Cuba's leader and oversaw nationalization of private property in 1960, "Inverciones Rabanal" run by Jesus Larrazabal (husband of Teresa Rabanal – Manuel's daughter) along with the Ironbeer of Cuba families (Rabanal, Larrazabal, Rojas) were exiled in Miami.
The U.S. version of Ironbeer Softdrink, without the 500 pounds (230 kg) bell on logo, is owned and operated by the Blanco Family.
In 1991, Ironbeer's sister company, Sunshine Bottling, got into a business venture with Tropicana, which was looking for a new bottling company. Ironbeer then invested heavily into expanding Sunshine Bottling Co. to get it ready for the demands of this really enormous contract.
Tropicana ended up owning a bottling company by ways of an acquisition and the Sunshine Bottling deal was no longer needed. Tropicanas people made a demand about the percentage of air in each can of their orange juice – an impossible demand, industry experts said, and one outside the terms of their contract – and extricated themselves from it.
Ironbeer's CEO, Pedro Blanco Sr., sued Tropicana and eventually won a considerable sum for production costs and damages, but not before the huge legal bills sent Ironbeer into bankruptcy court. They emerged in 1999 a leaner, tougher company, and one that learned the hard way that the big beverage companies don’t ever, ever play nice with the little guy.
The softdrink along with a few others and the Sunchy line of juices is still being bottle in Miami by Sunshine Bottling Company. The company is still currently owned and operated by president and CEO Carlos Blanco Sr., Pedro Blanco Sr. has since died.
Ironbeer cans give the following story about its origins:
- On a summers afternoon, in 1917 a mule-drawn, wooden wagon arrived at a popular cafeteria in Havana, Cuba. It delivered the first four cases of a new soft drink that would soon be called "The National Beverage". Now more than 80 years later, IRONBEER is still enjoyed for its refreshing flavor with just a hint of island spices. A lot can change over the years – but not the original flavor of IRONBEER!
- "Ironbeer". Delicioussparklingtemperancedrinks.net. Retrieved 2014-04-15.
- "Beaten to a Pulp: Ironbeer entrepreneur Pedro Blanco thought he had a fruitful contract to can Tropicana juice. Now all he's got is a bankrupt business."
- "Strong Brew: A costly battle with giant juice company Tropicana turned into a blessing for soft drink maker Ironbeer, whose revenues have since tripled."
- BevBoard Ironbeer discussion
- "Tropical soft drink: Tastes of home in every sip"
- Delicious Sparkling Temperance Drinks review of Ironbeer
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