Polar Beverages

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Polar Beverages
Privately held company
Industry Beverages
Founded 1882
Headquarters Worcester, Massachusetts, USA
Key people
Ralph Crowley, Jr. Christopher Crowley, James (Jeff) Crowley, David Crowley, Carolyn Stimpson, Emmy Kale
Products Polar Seltzers, Sodas and Mixers
Website www.polarbev.com

Polar Beverages is a soft drink company based in Worcester, Massachusetts. It is a manufacturer and distributor of fruit-flavored sodas, seltzer, ginger ale, drink mixers, and spring water to customers in the northeastern United States. It is the largest independent soft-drink bottler in the United States.[1]

It markets beverages under its flagship brand, Polar Beverages, and under the brands Adirondack Beverages and Cape Cod Dry. In addition to its own drinks, Polar bottles and distributes national brands such as A&W, Izze, and Sunkist. The company has two bottling plants and six distribution facilities; it also offers corporate water services and beverage vending equipment.[2]

It is a fourth-generation, family-owned business that traces its roots to 1882;[3] it is run by Ralph Crowley, Jr.,[4] the great-grandson of founder Dennis M. Crowley.


Polar was founded by Ralph’s great-grandfather, Dennis Mark Crowley. The business began in the 1880s as the J. G. Bieberbach Company, a liquor company. In 1916, the company took on the Polar name, but Prohibition brought about a fundamental change. Polar stopped selling whiskey and began selling carbonated beverages like waters, ginger ales and drys.[5]


Orson the Bear

A polar bear named Orson has been the company's mascot since 1902.[6] Next to the company's billboard near I-290 in Worcester, there is a large inflatable version of Orson, which can be seen smiling and "waving" to passersby. The oversized bear is tied down by wire, to keep the bear in place during rough weather, and to prevent theft. Orson has sometimes been stolen by local fraternities as a prank.[7]

Conflict with Coca-Cola[edit]

In 1994 Polar made a TV commercial where a polar bear considers drinking a Coca-Cola, but throws it into a recycling bin marked, "Keep the Arctic pure." The polar bear then reaches down into the freezing Arctic water and pulls out a can of Polar Seltzer and drinks from it contentedly.[8] Coca-Cola filed a motion for the injunction against Polar in United States District Court in Boston contending that the commercial made Coke's product appear impure.[9]

The US district court granted the Company's motion because the commercial "implied that Coke [was] not pure", misrepresented the nature and quality of Coke, thereby potentially harming the soft drink irreparably.[8]

The injunction handed down required Polar Corporation to revise the ad. According to Polar, the judge's ruling affirmed the right of Polar to use a polar bear in its ads, but limited them from discarding the Coke can.[9]


  1. ^ "Top 25 Bottlers Report 2007" Archived May 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ "Hoover's Company Profiles". Hoovers.com. 2010-10-21. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
  3. ^ "History". Polarbev.com. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
  4. ^ The cult of Polar Seltzer: Why one brand of carbonated water has New Englanders obsessed
  5. ^ The cult of Polar Seltzer: Why one brand of carbonated water has New Englanders obsessed
  6. ^ "The Polar Bear That Has Coke Steaming". Businessweek. 1995-01-15. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
  7. ^ "Goliath: Business knowledge on Demand". Goliath.ecnext.com. Retrieved 2012-06-12.
  8. ^ a b Cocaine-Cola, the Velvet Elvis, and Anti-Barbie: Defending the Trademark and Publicity Rights to Cultural Icons. Steven M. Cordero. Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, 1998
  9. ^ a b "Ruling Revises Polar Bear Ad". New York Times. 1995-01-03. Retrieved 2012-06-12.

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