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Norton Center Salutes: G & J Pepsi

Norton Center Salutes recognizes the amazing people and organizations that sponsor our shows and events. 

The name “Pepsi” first originated in 1898 when Caleb Bradham, a North Carolina pharmacist, renamed “Brad’s Drink”, a carbonated soft drink he created to serve his drugstore’s fountain customers. From these humble beginnings, the Pepsi name survived bankruptcy, the Great Depression, two World Wars, and several ownership changes to become the multi-billion-dollar corporation that exists today.

G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers, Inc. is a privately held, family-owned bottler, producing and distributing Pepsi-Cola and Dr Pepper products in Kentucky and Ohio.

The G&J story began in 1925 in Cincinnati, Ohio when two women named Nell and Esther worked in the office of the Grand Pop Bottling Company. With the early stages of the depression taking place, the owner of Grand Pop decided to put the company on the market. Nell and Esther asked their boyfriends, Walter Gross and Isaac N. Jarson if they would be interested in becoming equal partners in purchasing the business. Walter and Isaac agreed and all four put in 25% and became equal partners in the company. In the years after becoming business partners, Nell married Walter Gross and Esther married Isaac Jarson.

In 1935, a representative of the Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company called the Grand Pop Bottling Company and offered them a Pepsi Franchise. Walter and
Isaac decided to try it and began production several months later. Soon thereafter, the Company changed their name to The Pepsi-Cola Bottling Company of Cincinnati. The product sold remarkably well because the bottle contained twice as much product as our competitor, Coke, for the same price. That became one of the early advertising jingles: “Pepsi-Cola hits the spot. Twelve full ounces, that’s a lot. Twice as much for a nickel, too. Pepsi-Cola is the drink for you.”

From Cincinnati they sent trucks as far as they could in all directions. The Pepsi-Cola Company stopped them only after they had gone so far that they could no longer handle the production necessary in Cincinnati. They built a production facility in Hamilton, OH in 1939 and another in Lexington, KY in 1940. The Portsmouth, OH franchise, which was already in operation, was the next addition to the G&J franchise.

In 1955, the decision was made to sell their rights to the Cincinnati franchise portion of the business and build a production facility in Ripley, OH. Also, of note in the 1950’s: Walt & Nell’s sons, Walt Jr., and Tom both graduated from college and started working in the family business. Searching to grow the business, they found the franchise opportunity in Columbus, OH. Athens, OH and Zanesville, OH were the last additions to the current G&J franchise area.

In 2013, Middlestreet Graphics and Display was established as a subsidiary of G&J Pepsi-Cola Bottlers. Middlestreet Graphics and Display provides digital printing for point-of-sale, corrugated displays, retail signage, vehicle wraps, event marketing pieces and food service promotional materials for companies inside and outside the Pepsi bottling system.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, G&J Pepsi-Cola remains a privately-owned company and is comprised of 12 production, distribution and sales facilities including Athens, Columbus, Hamilton, Franklin Furnace, Ripley, Wilmington, and Zanesville, Ohio, and Lexington, Maysville, Campton, Harrodsburg and Winchester, Kentucky. We distribute Pepsi and Dr Pepper brand products as well as packages under Lipton, Dole, Gatorade, Muscle Milk, Rockstar, Starbucks, Celsius Energy, and Tropicana beverages.

G & J Pepsi is a proud sponsor of The Guess Who. 

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