The Phantom That Was Rondo Cola

Tracing the Roots of a Product

Starting with the remembrance of the maker of this Hub request, Aya Katz, I contacted Coca-Cola Company and their products division.

After researching my query, Coca-Cola Company send me a message. Greg in the Industry and Consumer Affairs Department reported that Rondo has not been a product of the Coca-Cola Company.

I was referred to the American Beverage Association.

Meanwhile, I found old newspaper clippings about Rondo and the reports of some former drinkers of Rondo Cola and will share all of these with you here.

Rondo - The Thirst Cruncher

Who Made Rondo?

The American Beverage Association (ABA) recognizes the Big Three of carbonated soft drinks as The Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo and Cadbury Schweppes' Americas Beverages. Further, they state that the three produced one Flagship Soda each, in this order Coke, Pepsi, and Dr Pepper the 19th century. No mention is made on their soft drink history page of Rondo.

The ABA as a group is a trade association for non-alcoholic beverage makers and distributors, as well as related industry sectors, since 1919. Their 21st century initiatives include healthy beverages, clean water, and recycling, among others.

 

November 11, 1978 -- Schweppes Aims Rondo at U.S. Thirsts; Exhaustive Testing

-- The New York Times, column headline. : Business & Finance, Page 29, author Robert D. Hersey, Jr.

As of 11/11/1978, it was reported that Rondo was outselling Coca-Cola in cans in Kansas City. The president of Schweppes, John B. On (?) stated that Schweppes tested the drink the called Rondo for two years and then went "all-out" in marketing the product.

Thus, Schweppes, or Cadbury-Schweppes now, created Rondo Cola. The beverage was sold and marketed beginning in 1978 and into the early to mid 1980s, according to the memories of individuals that enjoyed it. The most recetn report I have found of it on a store shelf in America is 1983 in Denver, Colorado. Barring any future reports to the contrary, it seems Rondo lasted from 1978 through 1983, or about 5 years.

Sample Memories of the Phantom, Rondo:

Military Veteran- We drank so many cans, we built a towering pyramid of empties in our transient barracks quarters...Rondo...perfect compliment to a "San Francisco burrito" of beans, rice, meat, salsa and cheese in a large flour tortilla, all wrapped in foil. [Note: sounds like Chipotle restaurant!]

Adult Male -- "Rondo - The Thirst Crusher" (advertising slogan). It was less carbonated "so you could slam it down fast!" (another slogan). A couple of those, a Marathon bar (candy), and playing Star Castle (video game) in 7-11 is how I spent my 'tween years.

Australia - Rondo is called Solo now. Solo is common in Australia. Some consumers remember Solo as early as 1973 in Australia.

Australia - The US makes Coolah Energy with the slogan "Energy From Down Under" and claims Solo to be the energy drink's inspiration. Coolah Energy is a Dr. Pepper product. It's over $2.00 per can in 2008.

Cartoonist Jeff Swenson - "On the can I see: Cadbury Pty Ltd in Australia, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper/Seven Up." Reference: http://www.swensonfunnies.com/soda_wars/coolahenergy_review.php Retrieved September 9, 2008. [Note: It sounds like all of the Big Three contributed to this one.]

Miscellaneous comments:

  • Rondo was last seen in Denver, Colorado by one gentleman around 1983.
  • Light flavored, Citrus soda-I would chug the stuff all day when I was around 11 or 12.
  • A male skier in a commercial skiied on grass and then drank a Rondo and crushed the can shouting "Rondo - The Thirst Crusher."
  • As kids in Northern Ireland we bought a can of Coke and a can of Fanta Orange and mix them to make Muddy Ducks. OK Soda (from Coca-Cola for a few monts in 1994) is a Muddy Duck. [Note - some think this is also Rondob but rodo was lemon, not orange.]
  • Rondo gave away mini-Frisbees with the rondo logo on them.
  • One Rondo commercial featured an Asian martial artist practicing staff technique in a stream, chugging a rondo and shouting the Rondo slogan.
  • Nuns in a Catholic school objected to the black and yellow Rondo can, because it looked like a beer can.
  • One collector has an original 12-oz bottle from Rondo and a Rondo belt buckle he found on EBay.

 

"You got to crack a Solo ...to be a Solo man!"

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Comments, Collections, and News of Rondo Cola 20 comments

Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

Patty, thanks for answrering my request. Great info! I especially like the photo of the can. We had lots of Rondo cans in our garage at one time, but they all got thrown out before I realized they would be collector's items. One day it was on the shelves in every store, and the next it was gone. What happened? Why was it discontinued?

I didn't know it wasn't a Coca-Cola product. Thanks for clearing that up.

Also, I wasn't aware that anybody called it "Rondo Cola." It wasn't a Cola. It was a citrus drink, and I think it contained no caffeine. It was tart and lightly carbonated, and I think it used real sugar rather than corn syrup. Does you research square with that description of the ingredients?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I can't find a good list of ingredients, but many people say it was made with lemon - Hence, the yellow can.

However, in some areas of the US, all carbonated drinks are called "Cola", just as in some parts of the Southern US, all soft drinks are called "Coke." So that's why there are references to "Rondo Cola" on discussion boards.

In America you may hear "Orange Cola" in some parts and no cola is present with the orange :) 

I have no hint yet as to why it was discontinued. However, if Coolah Energy is over $2.00 a can, is selling well, and is quite similar to Rondo, the bottlers would not make a cheaper version perhaps. Don't know yet.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

If anyone that reads this has an old can from Rondo, please list the ingredients in this comments section - Thank you, we'll appreciate you!


Anna Marie Bowman profile image

Anna Marie Bowman 8 years ago from Florida

I have never even heard of Rondo...hmmm...it was very interesting!!!


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

I uaually would never spend $2.00 on a can of energy drink, but if I see Coolah Energy, I must try one and see what it's all about. I bet it's a reworking of Rondo with added vitamins (maybe) and caffeine.


Aya Katz profile image

Aya Katz 8 years ago from The Ozarks

Yeah, Coolah Energy would be good to try, but what was good about Rondo at the time was that it was an alternative to a Cola with more natural zing than a Sprite. If they added caffeine then that's a little like cheating.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 8 years ago from North America Author

It sounds like it might be similar to Quench, which had graprefruit instead of lemon. I liked Quench very much and cannot find it often now, either.

When did Mountain Dew come out? Rondo may have been pulled for future use in the energy drink market and in the market competing with Mr. Dew (?). That's just a guess. I am suspicious about Coolah Energy displaying the names of all the Big Three on it's label. I think it's defintely been marketing in action that Rondo was pulled. Again, just a guess.


a_cmc_2b, MS 7 years ago

I grew up in West Tennessee and remember Rondo very well. Was always curious as to where it went. Thanks for posting this info...

Can Solo be bought in the US?


denise Sanford 7 years ago

Did it ever come in a green bottle I have for empties but no ingredients or company other then Rondo Beverage on bottle.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 7 years ago from North America Author

a_cmc-- I have seen Solo in certain gas station convenience stores in the South US a few years ago.

Denise - I've only seen the can, but a bottle is possible.


B Cantrell, LA 7 years ago

I have several of the green Rondo bottles. Anyone know what they are worth?


Scott 6 years ago

I loved Rondo, and rued the day it was no longer available. If Solo is the same recipe, I'd be willing to try it. Can you get it in the USA?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

I have seen it around here and ther in convenient stores, but not a lot of it. I think it is similar, but not the same recipe.


Craig 6 years ago

Anyone selling a can please let me know. I'd love to buy one for my collection!


guest 6 years ago

To the best of my memory, there was also a Rondo TV commercial featuring a man climbing a mountain (working up a Rondo thirst). When he reached the top of the mountain, he popped open a Rondo, guzzled it down ("fast"), and crushed the can. Also, to the best of my memory, this was one of the first soft drinks that was packaged in aluminum cans, as opposed to tin cans, thus making it quite easy to crush the empty cans. Of course I was just a kid at the time, so the aluminum can memory may not be completely accurate, but the mountain climber commercial was definitely a real thing.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Thanks for adding those memories; it gives us a bette picture of the era.


Vic 6 years ago

This should throw a wrench in the "Rondo" thread. I worked in a conveinience store in Dresser, Wisconsin from 1978-1982. I found a strange can of Rondo where the can was upside down (tab to open was on the bottom of the can). Thinking it might be collectible some day I saved it and still have this metal, not aluminum can. The can reads "CANNED UNDER AUTHORITY OF RONDO BEVERAGE CORPORATION, STAMFORD, TC 06905 BY COCA-COLA BOTTLING MIDWEST INC., ST. PAUL, MINNESOTA 55121". The ingredients show "Contains carbonated water, sugar, citric acid, sodium citrate, natural citrus flavor, sodium benzoate (as a preservative), and artificial color".

I wonder if it is collectible?


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 6 years ago from North America Author

Sounds collectible to me, especially upside down tab open. Local auction houses and antique stores or even a Coca Cola memorabilia collector should be able to tell you how much it's worth. Good keepsake!


bikeamtn 3 years ago

Thanks for the article - Never was a 'pop' drinker but when the subject comes up, it is 'Rondo' that I always highlight in conversation. It was the best soda in the US market. I think it had very little sweeter (if any), all natural citrus and lightly carb'ed. It was the only 'soda-pop' drink I purchased all the days it was available and was upsetting when it disappeared. This happens too often to great things in the US when big business is involved. Now we are faced with a diabetic, obese threatened society, shameful. "A salute to RONDO"


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 3 years ago from North America Author

I like to add some seltzer to grapfruit juice - it's not Rhondo, but its pretty good. I agree about the sugared drinks. Thanks for writing!

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