Ask Me Anything: OLIPOP's CEO & Formulator
Over the last few years, we've received numerous questions regarding the ins and outs of our company. From how do we decide what flavors we're going to make to where and how we make our sodas, we understood that we needed to spend some time talking about...well, more about ourselves. So, with questions still rolling in daily, we're doing a good old-fashioned AMA, Ask Me Anything, so we could start getting these burning questions answered. Of course, we are kicking off this new series with the guy who started it all, our CEO, co-founder, and formulator, Ben Goodwin. Somehow between formulating new and upcoming flavors and fulfilling regular CEO-related demands, Ben sat down to answer the questions we've received most.
How long did it take you to formulate OLIPOP's Orange Cream flavor?
I would say it took about four months from start to finish. That said, I have many other things on my plate, so it was not continuous work. Still, I'm usually busy experimenting and tinkering with new flavors on nights and weekends and working on getting them over the finish line.
How was this delicious and amazing drink born?
I actually grew up drinking orange soda and really enjoying orange creamsicles, so I was torn between which flavor profile to launch first. I ended up selecting orange soda (which became the Orange Squeeze) because I thought it would fit more meaningfully into our nostalgic flavor portfolio. We have a flavor request database, and I saw literally over a thousand requests for Orange Vanilla or Orange Cream soda flavor come in, and it made me hanker to take a crack at that as well. Eventually, we had discussions with Whole Foods about a national summer seasonal flavor, and I couldn't resist formulating Orange Cream because it's the perfect indulgent and happy summer flavor.
What’s YOUR favorite flavor?
It's literally like asking someone who their favorite child is! Hahaha. That said, I really enjoyed the technical process of making Orange Squeeze (I literally tried dozens of citrus juice combinations). In terms of drinking… I'm a massive fan of cherries, and there are very few actually delicious cherry beverages on the market, so I do like Cherry Vanilla (which has real tart cherry juice and Rainier cherry flavors)
What's the difference between Orange Squeeze and Orange Cream?
From a technical basis, Orange Squeeze has more acidity, no vanilla bean, a little less sweetness, and a different ratio of citrus juices (mandarin and clementine juices). Orange cream is all about hitting the proper balance of tart to sweet and creamy. The vanilla and orange notes build on each other (it starts with a tart, sweet orange and then morphs into rich, fruity vanilla)
What's the most challenging part about creating and launching a new flavor?
Honestly, since the onset of COVID, I've been making these flavors in my kitchen. I've got a fridge literally full of juices, boxes of ingredients tucked all over my house, and all sorts of expensive equipment on my kitchen counter. I really have to connect with myself while I formulate and create something I'm satisfied with, which can take a long time. Then the day comes that I hit formula and say, "yeah, that's basically it," because I want to keep picking up the bottle and drinking it. From there, I just get anxious if other people will enjoy it because it's something that I created in such a personal space, really putting myself into the process. I've been relieved and grateful that people appreciate the result.
What’s the first flavor ya’ll created?
I actually worked on Ginger Lemon, Strawberry Vanilla, and Cola all at the same time. I don't totally remember which one was done first, but I do know that the cola took the longest to get right (I had been thinking about how I would approach a cola for a couple of years, but it was daunting). After that, a couple of other wild flavors (like jalapeno lemon peel) got some work put into them, but in the end, we landed on the initial trio, and I'm happy with that choice!
We hope you enjoyed a little more insight into how some of our flavors came to fruition. As you probably can guess, Ben is already tinkering away at least one more flavor right now. But we know you have more questions you're dying to ask, so hit us with the ones you want to know the most and who you want to hear from!
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