You might have already heard of and tried out sparkling and carbonated drinks that come in grape or lime yourself. Definitely, you would normally know what those would taste like. These are common flavours to the palette of many.
What makes Sanzo, a sparkling water line managed by a Filipino American, stand out is their incorporation of a cultural twist on these fun and bubbly drinks. They make use of fruits found in Southeast Asian countries like lychee, mango and even Calamansi!
Surprisingly, even with Southeast Asian based brands of the same kind, these flavours aren’t very common either. Taking the initiative to start something uncommon is definitely a big risk, but Sanzo pushed through and left a mark on the beverage industry that people are sure to remember.
Where It Began
Sanzo had first been introduced and available in New York City, expanding to Los Angeles and Chicago through a few retail partners by December. However, Sanzo was open to shipping to anywhere across the country which allowed more people to get their hands on this new sight of a drink.
What urged Sandro Roco, the founder of Sanzo, to start his brand was the way Asian tastes and flavours were incorporated in modern American drinks without truly representing any nostalgic feelings. Being a half Filipino, Roco knew exactly what taste would hit him enough to bring back remnants of his childhood. One of those is the Calamansi, which is much like a mix of a lime and a tangerine.
Upon looking through brands displayed in the Korean grocery mart’s selection of cold beverages, he failed to find the right mix of this. There were lime, lemon and grapefruit -which don’t represent the Asian childhood as greatly as Calamansi does.
That’s when it hit him. Roco had decided to create a line of sparkling juices dedicated to true Asian flavours that are often stored away to be put with other ethnic goods.
Roco started off with the Calamansi -a true staple to the Filipino household. Sanzo’s drinks are made with real fruit juice to really bring out the flavour in all its greatness. Surprisingly, by the time the brand had been launched, the seltzer lovers of New York City had been fond of the Calamansi flavour. Roco self-funded the creation of Sanzo through his savings. He was sure this was going to make a huge impact on “easternizing” American culture. And, like he had everything planned this whole time, Sanzo reached up to $2.2 billion worth of sales after the launch.
Later, his little project turned into a full-on company. He built partnerships with other people despite handling various positions. After a while, he had hired people to lessen his load.
Definitely, Sanzo has a lot more in store for the company and its growth in the beverage industry.
What makes Sanzo Unique?
The Asian taste consists of flavours that most westerns wouldn’t commonly see or even take as a direct addition to their choices. Although they can conceptualize what could suit the Asian taste, it is often just a similar feeling. This is what Roco wanted to fix. Sanzo was made to celebrate the unique and exciting flavours of what seems as though it came directly from an Asian household. His sparkling water line truly brought out the potential of all these great tastes that have been set aside because of how unfamiliar it was to the western tongue.
The Calamansi serves as the best portrayal of a Filipino home. This little fruit, while small, is used in numerous dishes and drinks served either hot or cold. At times, it is even used as a natural remedy for a cold or so.
Other than the Calamansi flavour, Sanzo has more in store to impress the western palette. One of the other two flavours is the alphonso mango, which is also known as the king of India’s mangoes, which Roco gets directly from Thailand. It takes a full 180-spin from the spark you get from Calamansi. This one is more calm and suitable for those with a more mature preference.
The last flavour available is the lychee -which is a subtle but sweet twist on the usual grape flavour. It is rather lighter than the other two flavours and is very commonly used in different sweet treats and drinks in the Philippines. Some would even say this would be a good pair with drinks such as gin.
Each of these flavours represents a different memory to the Asian child. They hold a different meaning to the consumer and truly bring back a feeling of nostalgia. Likewise, these three special flavours contrast greatly with each other providing a unique selection to those who are new to the taste.
Sanzo and The Impact
This sparkling juice line turned the beverage industry greatly in terms of stepping out of comfort zones. At the start, beverages were being made to cater only the people of the country. While most companies attempt to incorporate diversity when it comes to flavour, there isn’t the most knowledge about the audience they are aiming for.
Truly, the best way to know the real deal is by asking someone who has experienced it themselves. Through Roco’s personal experience and memories, he had come up with the unique flavours of the Sanzo line that is currently loved by many.
Through his drinks, he had been able to showcase comforting Asian flavours in a new light at the west. Sanzo made way for these tastes to have the spotlight and continues to promote it as more than just a part of the ethnicity. Rather, it helps people see these simple fruits and flavours as a big part of the culture -particularly because of how this affected an Asian home. It’s the only beginning for this brand. Roco is looking to add more variety to the flavours enough to present special fruits that are native to even more Asian regions.
And Where is Sanzo Headed Now?
As the brand continues to grow, Roco aims to provide more variety with the flavours as well as improve in the more business side. This includes a change in packaging, manufacturing, sourcing and even working with different marts and cafes around the country particularly with those that also promote the Asian American community.