Discover Benelux, Issue 32, August 2016

Page 80

Discover Benelux | Beverage of the Month | Netherlands



A story that starts with an old soda bottle found during the demolition of a ruined shed, is undoubtedly a good one. It happened to entrepreneur Ton Verhoeven, whose discovery meant the revitalisation of the illustrious soda drink Exota. A friendly pop sound arises when opening a colourful bottle of Exota. “It is a bubbly and light drink, just sweet enough,” according to Verhoeven. Served in a nostalgic yet hip swing-top bottle in eight flavours, it is the perfect drink for summer. Verhoeven relaunched the soda brand in early 2015, together with two friends. “After my father immediately started to relive happy memories when we showed him the found bottle, we decided to start a new Exota story.” Exota’s original story starts in the 1950s in the Netherlands when it was the topselling soda in the country. “Sales even topped Coca-Cola. Ask anyone over 50 in the Netherlands about Exota and you will 80 | Issue 32 | August 2016

see their eyes sparkling with recognition.” Its popularity lasted until the 1970s, when a now-famous series of broadcasts shed light on rumours about randomly exploding Exota bottles. The statement was debunked in the 1990s, 20 years too late. The brand never recovered from the decline in sales due to the broadcasting and went under in the 1970s. Luckily, Exota’s rich past did not prevent Verhoeven and his partners to breathe new life into the brand. Although the bottle and logo both strongly resemble the old Exota, the current flavours will mainly satisfy today’s taste buds. “We revised the recipe to make it less sweet and heavy. We even visited Exota’s old owner to let him taste the new formula. We got his full approval,” Verhoeven laughs. The drink is made by Rième Boissons, a factory in the French town of Morteau. “When exploring our possibilities, we came across a bottle from this small factory. The owner turned out to be a soda expert pur sang, coming from four generations of soda brewers.”

Exota is made with real sugar, something that is blatantly put on the bottles, accompanied with the encouragement to drink a glass of water every now and then to keep it healthy. “During this whole journey we decided to stay true to ourselves, and therefore intentionally used slogans that are a bit recalcitrant.There is nothing wrong with spoiling yourself every now and then - there is a reason why a guilty pleasure feels so good!”