Choc-Ola is an American chocolate beverage that was formulated in the 1940s by Harry Normington, Sr. from Pennsylvania. Normington distributed the beverage through Choc Ola Bottlers Inc., which he founded in 1944 in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Harry Normington Sr. initially found work at Meadow Gold Dairy in Vincennes, Indiana. After moving his family to Vincennes, he began making plans for a new business in which he planned to bottle and sell a 6-oz chocolate drink, which would eventually become Choc-Ola. By 1944, Harry had finally found an adequate in Beech Grove. That same year, after moving his family to Indianapolis and establishing Choc-Ola Bottlers Inc., Harry purchased a route truck and in conjunction with larger distributors like 7Up, he began having Choc-Ola distributed throughout central Indiana. Eventually he began distributing to all of Indiana and the bordering areas of Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan
Trouble in 70's
Choc-Ola continued to gain popularity throughout the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s where they sold in excess of 1.7 million cases per year. In 1977, at the height of its success, Harry sold the company to Atlanta-based Moxie Industries. Moxie continued to operate the Indianapolis plant and distribute Choc-Ola much in the same way that Harry Normington had; however, periodic problems with cocoa quality and issues with changing FDA regulations caused some challenging production issues. With the new FDA regulations Moxie was unable to continue production in the Indianapolis plant without incurring substantial costs, Moxie opted to close the Indianapolis plant in 1982 and relocate the packaging operation to a contract manufacturer in Doraville, Georgia called Consolidated Chocolate. Packaging of Choc-Ola continued at the Doraville facility until at least 1985.
Daniel Iaria’s story of bringing Choc-Ola back!
Eventually, in 1985, Moxie decided to sell the Choc-Ola business to The Chocolate Group (later renamed to Yoo-Hoo Industries), which was also the parent company of Yoo-Hoo; one of Choc-Ola’s major competitors at the time. Shortly thereafter, The Chocolate Group began phasing out production and distribution of Choc-Ola to concentrate on the Yoo-Hoo brand. In 2003, Yoo-Hoo Industries sells several beverage brands to the Mott’s division of Cadbury-Schweppes. Choc-Ola was one of the brands acquired by Mott’s during that acquisition.
In 2009 Mott’s decided not to renew the trademark for Choc-Ola and it expired. At the same time, Dan Iaria was looking for iconic brands to sell in his 50’s style café on the east side of Indianapolis. He found that while the brand was no longer being produced he did find that the trademark was available. He applied for and was granted trademark.
In 2019, Dan Iaria and his partners approached Dave Hunter, a recently retired beverage distribution professional with over 35 years of experience in the industry. Dave Agreed to become the CEO and President of Choc-Ola Corporation and immediately was tasked with bringing back Choc-Ola to the market. It was obvious that the packaging and recipes needed updating to satisfy the consumers who have never forgotten their love for Choc-Ola. We are currently working with a new co-packer to bring back the iconic brand and add two exciting new flavors. Look for Choc-Ola to make its reintroduction late in 2020.