Old Red Eye Root Beer
Old Red Eye root beer is produced by Orca Beverage Soda Works, Inc. out of Mulkiteo, WA which opened its doors in 1988. The company was founded by Mike Bourgeois, 55, whose interest was initally peaked in the industry while working with bottlers as a part of his senior project at Seattle University. The company originally sub-contracted the production of their first soda with another bottler, but then went on to purchase their own bottling line from Pepsi-Cola. Orca now bottles more than 100 different sodas, and owns between 30-40 trademarks--producing nearly 1 million cases of soda a year.
There is very little information on the genesis of Old Red Eye root beer itself. A couple of stories exist—however the authenticity of them is in question.
In an interview with Orca, Old Red Eye Root Beer has its origins in either Colorado or Missouri in the early 1940’s. "Legend has it, there was a craggy old bull named Red Eye - with a glint and a gnarly attitude, he could only be coaxed from his pen to do his daily duties when a brave soul would pop open a bottle of his favorite root beer, pour it in his tin bowl, then run like heck before being stomped. Red Eye preferred his root beer frosty cold."
Other sources have Old Red Eye first produced in Carthage, Tennessee in the 1950’s by Old Colony Beveragesas a soft drink containing caffeine (The one we sell does NOT contain caffeine). Old Colony Beverages began as an independent company and was later sold to the Orange Crush Company of Canada.
Jennifer Sasseen/Herald Business Journal
Orca Beverage Facebook Page