Let’s sample a drink from south of the border, shall we? It’s Pascual Boing! Mango, a fruit drink imported from Mexico, featuring flavor pulled from 100% natural pulp. We picked up a bottle at a local Hispanic supermarket here in Chicago and decided to check it out!
Boing! is bottled by a company known as Sociedad Cooperativa Trabajadores de Pascual, S.C.L. (or just Pascual, for short). If you dig into the history of the organization, you’ll find a fascinating story. In the 1982, due to devaluation of the peso, the Mexican government ordered a pay raise for all worker salaries. The owners of the company at the time, Pascual, S.A., refused to honor this decree, thus the workers went on strike (apparently resulting in a few controversial deaths along the way.)
Eventually, the workers returned to the organization 3 years later, as in 1985 the factory was turned into a cooperative. So basically, we have a soft drink company owned by the workers, utilizing fruit and sugar grown in Mexico, that is now a production coop that is considered a success for the labor movement. And guess what? The drinks are pretty tasty as well!
Pascual sells a variety of products, but Boing! is one of the flagships brands. The drink is currently offered in flavors such as mango, tamarind, strawberry, grape, apple, orange, guava, pineapple, soursop, and peach. According to Wikipedia, “the company consumes about 20 thousand tons of fruit annually and 24 thousand tons of sugar.”
The Mango flavor is the one we checked out on this visit. Its ingredients are pretty tasty, reflecting the natural claims of a fruit-based drink: water, 15% mango pulp, sugar, citric acid, sorbitol, lecithin, natural coloring (carmine red and beta-beta carotene), 0.03% sodium benzoate and 0.005% potassium sorbate (as preservatives), and sodium erythorbate (as antioxidant). A 11.7 oz. glass bottle packs 161 calories, 29mg of sodium, 39g of sugar, and over 10% of your recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C.
Upon opening the beverage, you are greeted with a delightful mango scent that hearkens to what a fruit juice should smell like. As for the taste? Smooth. Very smooth. You can’t mistake the fruit found in this drink. There wasn’t pulp or anything, but a very authentic flavor that reminded me quite a bit of the natural beverages I experienced during my time in Costa Rica not too long ago. The flavor is very sweet, very real. Good stuff!
On a side note… as I did research on the company, it’s interesting to note how their corporate logo very much resembles Donald Duck. Apparently, the company has been using Pato Pascual (Pascual Duck) since the 1940s. If you look at the original logo, it’s pretty obvious that it’s Donald. Of course, the logo was never licensed by Disney, resulting in the two organization butting heads quite a bit over the years. Finally, in 2007, Pascual redesigned the character to be a “rapper-style duck with spiky feathers and a blue baseball cap worn backward.” Even now, it still looks quite a bit like Donald!
For more information about the logo change, here’s a Reuters article from May 2007:
Donald Duck vanquishes Mexico soft drink lookalike
May 11, 2007
MEXICO CITY – Donald Duck has chased off a Mexican look-alike after a trademark dispute that simmered for decades between Disney and a beverage maker that copied the hot-headed cartoon character for its logo in 1940.
Pascual Boing, known in Mexico for tropical fruit drinks like mango and guayaba, is ditching its old logo based on Walt Disney Co.’s sailor-suited duck in favor of a rapper-style duck with spiky feathers and a blue baseball cap worn backward.
The updated character still will be known as Pato Pascual (Pascual Duck) and the beverage cooperative already has printed the new logo on some of its packaging. Alfonso Sanchez, No. 2 on the Pascual Boing board, said the company was replacing logos on its trucks and staff uniforms with the new design.
“The dispute hasn’t been decided one way or the other but we wanted to bring this face, which is years old, up to date,” he said. “The new one is similar but younger.”
“It was time to modernize the logo.”
A Pascual Boing spokesman explained the logo change by saying, “To avoid ending up with a more complicated situation, court cases and everything, we decided to modify the logo.”
Disney declined to comment.
Pascual Boing adopted a logo identical to Donald Duck just as the spluttering white-feathered star was challenging Mickey Mouse’s popularity in the United States and making waves in Mexico with his famously mercurial character.
It got away with it for 40 years but a trademark dispute blew up about 30 years ago, just as Pascual Boing was battling massive new competition from U.S. fizzy cola drinks.
After a court case in Mexico, Pascual Boing altered Pato Pascual very slightly so it could keep the logo, the company spokesman said. But a few years ago Disney renewed its objections and said the duck still looked too much like Donald.
About the same time as the battle over its duck began, Pascual Boing was struck in the 1980s by a bitter labor dispute that led to workers taking control and transforming it into a cooperative. Today it has a workforce of about 5,000 and has clung onto 15 percent of Mexico’s soft drinks market.
Mexicans are among the world’s biggest guzzlers of sugary drinks and increasingly shun natural fruit beverages for Coca-Cola’s Coke, Sprite and apple-flavored Manzanita Lift or PepsiCo Inc.’s Pepsi Cola and Manzanita Sol.