SHAWANO (NBC 26) — Many business owners and communities took a hit during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but others quickly adapted and were able to offer the same quality products — thanks to community support.
Twig's Beverage in Shawano is a family-run business, and the Hartwigs have been bottling Sun Drop for generations. NBC 26 Today's MacLeod Hageman visited Twig's to get an up-close look at the business's success and see how Sun Drop is produced and packaged.
Sun Drop is the first official citrus cola ever produced, and Twig's is the last place in the entire world to offer returns for the iconic bottles. The best part about the location in Shawano is that visitors can see how it's made.
From start to finish — each bottle of Sun Drop goes through a rigorous process to be first sterilized, labeled, filled to just the right amount, capped and then finally packaged and ready for sale. Manager Ben Hartwig says each bottle must also go through quality control.
"He inspects every bottle. He has to make sure the label is on there good. The date is on there good. The cap is on there correctly, make sure it's filled up to the right amount, and make sure there aren't any imperfections in the bottle," Hartwig said.
Hartwig said Twig's has been a family-run business for three generations, and the secret to their success has really been simple.
"The community has been great. You'll go to restaurants and bars, and you'll see Sun Drops at everyone's table. If they don't have a Sun Drop, you know they're from out of town. We try to get all the people from out of town to try it. So, it's been a big hit," Hartwig said.
While walking through the Twig's Museum, you can see the production line for yourself — where the product is labeled, bottled, and packaged right in front of you.
"You can also see them bottling our Twig's line. We have a lot of different flavors we do ourself in house. So, when people come here, they can view the line, see the history of our business as well as Sun Drop and well as other bottlers that were in the area, and they can also sample some of our flavors as well," Hartwig said.
Even though Sun Drop has become a Shawano staple, Ben said he wants to remind people it was first created in Missouri.
"We're not the ones who created Sun Drop, but we are happy to keep it going in a nostalgic returnable bottle," Hartwig said.
Ben says you can can also visit the museum and gift shop for free, and people have traveled from all over the world to see it.