Mexican soft drinks: When Cider Pino invited the “enemy” to his house in Yucatan and disappeared

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If there are soft drinks that marked Yucatecans and that many still yearn for, those are the ones produced by Sidra Pino, from its traditional barley and black flavors, to the iconic Chocolate Soldier. Although the building remains in the same place with signs of abandonment, its doors did not reopen and the dream of that ship captain who delighted his guests with natural drinks came to an end.

José María Pino Rusconi was a captain who loved to prepare natural drinks like black (with vanilla and banana) and that with that passion he founded his own soft drink in 1888. According to Humberto Sánchez Baquedano, who researched the history for years, he was a native of Campeche. He never imagined that his enterprise would become so important among Yucatecans for several generations.

Thus, he founded the Bottler of Refrescos Pino SA de CV and then sought the patent for Sidra Yucatán, which was recognized in 1898. In this way, people began to enjoy the Black Pine, Hibiscus, barley, apple, grapefruit, grape, tangerine and lemon, which came in their glass presentation. When he died, the company of this visionary passed to his son José María Pino Domínguez.

With the “enemy” in Yucatan

In 1935 Sidra Pino began to distribute Coca-Cola, which was later adopted by the Ponce family in Yucatan. However, this invitation was the background to the end, because later this company began to dominate the regional market together with Pepsi.

In 1946, Pepsi-Cola arrived in Mérida with something they did not anticipate, a bottle that had twice as much soda as other brands and at the same price. So, he started to lead the market. In the 1950s, Sidra Pino launched the Chocolate Soldier that, although it was a North American brand, received the concentrate in Progreso, Yucatán.

At that time, the bottler was inherited by the sons of José María, Luis Felipe, Víctor Manuel and Raúl Pino Domínguez, who sold it to Jalil Gáber, a man of Lebanese origin who changed the logo to that of a cedar and the word pine in the green letters, which alluded to the flag of Lebanon. In the 1960s, the market in that region changed and Coca-Cola took the lead, followed by Pepsi and Pino in third place.

When Cider Pino closed its doors

In 1994 the decline began and both Pepsi and Coca-Cola began to grow much more. Bepensa launched a chocolate-flavored drink that many know, the Bevi. In 2011 Sidra Pino went bankrupt, a strike broke out and it closed its doors. It was not until July 21, 2014 that the story of this dream came to an end definitively.

Beverages like Coca or Pepsi were not the only factors that led to its closure. When the strike broke out, it became known of the exploitation to which the employees were subjected, who received half their salaries and worked more than ten hours. At a breaking point, the last owner Victor “el Chacal” Erosa walked out and left his workers homeless, an incident that caused many social movements.

Today, although many have tried to imitate the original recipe for the iconic black and barley flavors, still, according to popular perception, no one has managed to find the “secret”.

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