Unforgotten Brands: Duke & Sons

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Generations of Indian consumers have cherished and remembered Duke and Sons innovative products and enduring legacy

Duke and Sons Pvt. Ltd, based in Bombay (now Mumbai), was established in 1889.

The company was the brainchild of Dinshawji Cooverji Pandole, a multifaceted individual who was also an accomplished sportsman, apart from being a school teacher by profession. Dinshawji played for the 2nd Parsi cricket team that toured England in 1888, impressively taking 86 wickets during the tour.

It was during one of these cricket tours to England that Dinshawji Pandole encountered the concept of bottled soft drinks. He left with the idea of establishing a bottled soft drink company and returned to India.

This marked the birth of Duke and Sons in 1889, a name derived from a cricket ball manufacturing company, Duke & Sons, reflecting Dinshawji’s passion for cricket.

Pioneering in the Beverage Industry

Despite competition from other Parsi soda enterprises, the Pandole family was undeterred. They introduced to the Indian market a range of products that were unlike anything seen before, characterised by their vibrant and psychedelic colours. This innovative approach helped Duke and Sons capture the attention and taste buds of Indian consumers, adding a splash of colour to the shelves.

The company produced a variety of drinks under the “Duke’s” brand, including Tango, Raspberry, Ginger, Pineapple, Lemonade, and Mangola.

Duke’s Lemonade

Duke’s Lemonade, a lemon-based aerated drink, was marketed in India since the company’s inception in 1889. It was especially popular in Irani cafés and was also used as a mixer with alcoholic beverages.

In a 2008 interview, Ramesh Chauhan of Parle recounted how he had approached Duke’s owners to request the formula for Duke’s Lemonade, promising not to market it in India. However, his request was declined, leading him to develop his formula, which was launched as Limca in 1977.

Initially, Duke’s manufactured lemonade from a small shed in Byculla, later moving operations to Khetwadi. Distribution, which began with bullock carts, was limited to Mumbai until 1940 when the company acquired Ford trucks. By 1989, Duke’s boasted a fleet of 90 distribution trucks and had established a manufacturing unit in Chembur with a production capacity of 19,000 crates per shift.

Innovating with Mangola

In the 1950s, Duke’s introduced Mangola, a non-aerated mango drink, as a strategic move to compete against the dominance of Coca-Cola and other aerated drinks.

Feroze Pandole, Dinshawji’s son, was instrumental in this innovation. He collaborated with a food canning factory to produce 3,000 cans of mango pulp and created his formulation. Mangola was marketed at the same price as aerated drinks, providing a 100% fruit-based alternative that quickly gained popularity without extensive advertising.

Diverse Product Offerings

Duke’s also produced Gingerade and Raspberry soda, each with its unique appeal. Gingerade was commonly consumed for digestive relief, while Raspberry soda became a staple at Parsi weddings and a favourite among children.

Transition and Revival

In 1994, the Pandole family sold Duke and Sons to PepsiCo. At the time of the sale, Duke’s held a 55% market share in its operational segments within Mumbai and Maharashtra. However, by 2004, PepsiCo had discontinued most of Duke’s beverages, except for Lemonade and Mangola, due to their limited regional presence.

In December 2011, PepsiCo announced a revival of Duke’s legacy flavours. The relaunch included old favourites like Raspberry soda, Gingerade, and Ice-Cream soda, along with a new addition, Mumbai Masala Soda. The reintroduced beverages came in new PET packaging and vintage glass bottles, along with higher margins for small retailers to encourage prominent display.

Enduring Legacy

Duke and Sons Pvt. Ltd, under the leadership of the Pandole family, left an indelible mark on India’s beverage industry. Generations of Indian consumers have cherished and remembered the company’s innovative products and enduring legacy.

Reference

https://theprint.in/feature/brandma/tango-raspberry-lemonade-dukes-fizzy-sweet-drinks-that-were-part-of-sunday-family-rituals/1114358

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