|Manufacturer||Ale-8-One Bottling Company, Inc.|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Introduced||1926, 97 years ago|
Ale-8-One, known colloquially as Ale-8, is a regional ginger- and citrus-flavored soft drink, distributed primarily to brick and mortar retailers in Kentucky. Ale-8 could be described as a ginger Soda with a "kick". It is a ginger and citrus blend, containing less carbonation and fewer calories than conventional soda.
The formula for Ale-8-One was developed by soda bottler G. L. Wainscott in the 1920s. Wainscott, who had been in the soda business in Winchester, Kentucky since 1902, had developed Roxa-Kola, his previous flagship product, in 1906. In creating the formula for Ale-8-One, Wainscott drew upon his knowledge of ginger-based recipes acquired in northern Europe.
Wainscott began bottling Ale-8-One in 1926. To choose a name for the drink, he sponsored a name-the-product contest. "A Late One" was chosen as the winning entry. The "Ale-8-One" name is a pun of the phrase suggesting that his product was "the latest thing" in soft drinks.
In 1935, Wainscott purchased a livery stable in Winchester and converted it to a bottling factory to expand his operation. Upon Wainscott's death in 1944, half of his company stock went to his wife; the other half was divided among his employees. When his wife died in 1954, her stock was left to her brother, Frank A. Rogers Sr. Rogers bought the remaining company stock in 1962 and incorporated the Ale-8-One Bottling Company. He named his son, Frank Rogers Jr., manager of the new company.
The Ale-8-One Bottling Company constructed a new plant in Winchester in 1965. It ceased production of Roxa-Kola in 1968 (but will reintroduce it in October 2023), and by 1974, had halted production of all its other drinks to focus on Ale-8-One. The company remains under the control of the Rogers family.
The recipe for Ale-8 is a closely guarded family secret. Reportedly, only two executives—former company president Frank A. Rogers III and his oldest son, Fielding Rogers, the current president—know the exact composition. However, scientific studies have proven the soft drink has less caffeine than Coca-Cola, Pepsi, or Mountain Dew.
In 2003, the company announced limited distribution of Diet Ale-8, its first new product since the introduction of the original Ale-8 in 1926. Diet Ale 8, which was renamed Ale-8 Zero Sugar in 2020, contains 44 mg of caffeine and no sugars. The diet variety is sweetened with a mixture of acesulfame potassium and sucralose. Caffeine Free Diet Ale 8 (now Caffeine Free Ale-8 Zero Sugar) followed in March 2011. In addition to not having any caffeine, it is also sweetened with Splenda.
In 2018, Cherry Ale 8 was released, making it the first flavored Ale-8-One. It was first available exclusively in fountain drink form, then it became available in bottles. A zero-sugar version of Cherry Ale-8 became available in 2020. In April 2019, Ale-8-One announced a new orange cream soda flavor to be available in early May of that year. In May 2022, Blackberry Ale-8 was released to the public, in a bottled form. In May 2023, Peach Ale-8 was released as a limited edition.
In 2023, it was announced that Roxa-Kola would be revived after 55 years of dormancy as a limited seasonal run to commemorate the 121st anniversary of the company's establishment.
Availability and distribution
For much of its history, Ale-8 was only available in central and eastern portions of Kentucky. In April 2001, the Ale-8-One Bottling Company expanded its distribution to areas of southern Ohio, and southern Indiana, through an agreement with Coca-Cola Enterprises. Later, distribution to eastern Tennessee and far western Virginia was added. It is also available in some parts of West Virginia.
In July 2015, Ale-8 announced plans to expand distribution into Indianapolis.
In 2016, Cracker Barrel began distributing the drink nationwide in all of its locations. In 2017, The Fresh Market began distributing Ale-8 and Diet Ale-8 in their stores in the eastern and Midwestern United States.
In 2006, the Ale-8-One Bottling Company introduced Ale-8-One Salsa, which was available as an experimental product, but became a permanent item at Kroger stores and on the company's online store. The salsa was inspired by a Sullivan University student who won a contest commemorating the company's 80th anniversary by making a salsa dish with the soft drink as an ingredient. Shortly after, Ale-8-One Barbecue Sauce was introduced.
- Chellogren, Mark R. (July 31, 1994). "Trendy soft drink has local public following". The Portsmouth Daily Times. Associated Press. p. A4 – via Google Books.
- Walton, p. 11
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- "Ale-8-One Offers Salsa". The Harrodsburg Herald. October 12, 2006. p. 12C – via Google Books.
- Walton, Riley Rogers (1992). "Ale-8-One". In John E. Kleber (ed.). The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Associate editors: Thomas D. Clark, Lowell H. Harrison, and James C. Klotter. Lexington, Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-1772-0. Retrieved 27 May 2019.