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Whet Your Whistle with this Local Worcester Business

Homegrown Polar Beverages expands its beverage.

By Kevin Litwin on September 21, 2021

Polar Seltzers lined up

The largest independent soft-drink bottler in the U.S. is headquartered in Worcester, which it has called home for almost 140 years.

It was back in 1882 when liquor distiller Dennis Crowley wanted to bolster his own whiskey peddling business by producing a line of whiskey mixers, such as seltzers, sparkling waters, club soda and ginger ale. The idea was a hit, and today, the fifth generation of Crowley family members own and operate Polar Beverages. The company remains a hometown favorite in Worcester, and it is seeing growing popularity, with an expanding national customer base that now includes about 35% of the country.

With a big white polar bear named “Orson” as its symbol, Polar produces and distributes beverages from its main Worcester location as well as plants in Albany, NY, and Fitzgerald, GA. The product line includes seltzers, sparkling waters, juices, lemonades, limeades and an assortment of club soda, ginger ale and tonic water.

The company’s most popular products are its seltzers, which come in a variety of flavors, including cranberry clementine, ruby red grapefruit and toasted coconut. All Polar products have zero caffeine, and company officials quickly point out that seltzers are flavorful beverages free of just about everything bad, such as sugar and calories. Seltzer waters are also an excellent choice for staying hydrated.

“Our lemon seltzer literally has three ingredients: lemon essence, water and bubbles,” says Lisbet Crowley, brand activation manager at Polar Beverages. “That’s it — three ingredients.”

Drink Up

After its successful history as a longtime consumer staple in New England, Polar executives decided in recent years to expand their sales to other parts of the country. The first big step occurred in June 2020 when Costco agreed to sell the line of Polar Beverages at its warehouse stores. A month later, Polar announced a partnership with Keurig Dr. Pepper to distribute all 36 Polar Seltzer products nationwide.

“Our expanded partnership with KDP opens a dynamic new chapter,” Polar Beverages President/CEO Ralph D. Crowley Jr. said in a statement. “We look forward to sharing our family of seltzers with their unrivaled sales and distribution network.”

Polar officials expect their sales to show significant increases in 2021 and beyond, especially with many Americans trying to make healthier choices, which includes limiting, reducing or eliminating soda and sugary drinks from their diets.

“People are moving to products they trust,” Lisbet Crowley says. “We’ve been here so long building that trust.”

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