Kirks is a soft drink manufacturer founded in Queensland, Australia in 1959, popular for their range of flavours including lemonade, creaming soda, and sarsaparilla. Currently, Kirks is owned, manufactured, and distributed by Coca-Cola Amatil.
Kirks produces a wide selection of soft drink flavours available throughout Australia. In 2014, Kirks launched a new line of limited edition original flavours, "Kirks Surprises". From the Surprises range, Watermelonade and Enchanted Fruits were produced in collaboration with Chupa Chups.
The Helidon Spa Water Company was founded in 1881 as a partnership between chemist Reginald Larard, and Scottish entrepreneur Gilbert E. Primrose to bottle the spring water of Helidon, Queensland. Their competitor, Owen Gardner & Sons was founded by Alfred Lucas Gardner in 1850, and in May 1897 was sued by the Helidon Spa Water Company for "infringement of his patent rights in connection with the sale of Helidon Spa water". This prevented Gardner and Sons from using the words ‘Helidon’ or ‘Spa Water’ on their bottles or advertisements, until a similar suit against Edward Campbell of the 'Brisbane Aerated Water Company' was appealed and the rules were relaxed.
After Gardner's death in 1888, the business was left to his sons Alfred and Ernest, and following the death of Alfred in 1917, management duties were maintained by a Mr T. Kirkpatrick. With chemist W Doolan, Kirkpatrick developed 'Kirk's Ginger Ale', which would go on to become the company's flagship product. During the 1930s, Kirkpatrick left Owen Gardener & Sons to work for main competitor, Brisbane bottler 'Tristram's', selling 'Kirk's Ginger Beer' under their brand. For this, Tristram's were taken to court by then Owen Gardner & Sons' owner Robert Sweeney, asserting their exclusive right to the Kirk's name. Winning the case, the popularity of kirk's (now lowercase) later led the company to use the name for their soft drink products as a whole.
In 1959, to compete with competition from imported products such as Coca-Cola, the long time competitors, Helidon Spa Water Company, and Owen Gardner & Sons merged to form Helidon Gardner Pty Ltd, trading together under the popular name "kirk's". Tristram's was also invited to take part in the merger, but declined. The claim "Since 1865" present in much of Kirks' marketing is untrue, referring to neither the founding date of Helidon Spa Water Company, Owen Gardner & Sons, or the Kirks name itself.
During the nineteen-eighties, the Kirks, Shelleys (NSW) and Gest (WA) brands shared a range of drinks with consistent packaging style and marketing material. Each brand was marketed to its own state of origin.
In 2000, now under Coca-Cola Amatil, the brands Kirks, Shelleys and Gest, along with Halls (SA), and Marchants, were unified, all taking the name of the Queensland bottler nationwide. The relaunch campaign aimed to evoke nostalgia for the door to door soft drink delivery by local brands in the 1960s to early 80's. Remnants of the original structure remain, as some flavours traditionally produced by local bottlers are only available in certain states.
In 2006, Kirks' packaging and advertising materials were redesigned, and again in 2014 with a more modern look.
Much of Kirks' range originates from flavours once produced by local bottlers, before the 2000 merger under Coca-Cola Amatil. A number of products remain available only in the region of its original manufacturer. Some are still considered local icons.
Kirks' ginger Ale was originally sold by Owen Gardner & Sons before the company was merged with the Helidon Spa Water Company to become "kirk's" in 1959. Before the 2000 merger under Coca-Cola Amatil, Kirks sold its creaming soda under the name "Kandy". Fruita and Sno Drop were originally products of Halls, whereas Kole Beer was produced by Gest. The brand's "Old Stoney" ginger beer originates its name from the stone pottery bottles that non-alcoholic ginger beer was sold in during the 1800s.
Kirks Surprises: Strawberries and Cream, Watermelonade, Lime Spider, Enchanted Fruits
Other: Brewed Ginger Beer
Diet varieties of some flavours are also available.
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