Prepping for Goli soda

A worker cleaning Goli soda bottles at Vasu and Co., Chennai
Cleaning Goli soda bottles | Vasu and Co., Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Goli soda is a locally made carbonated drink that was wildly popular in India before the entry of major international companies. In Chennai, Vasu and Co. is one out of a couple of surviving Goli soda makers. The business of making Goli soda drinks is a declining one, mainly due to the lack of the Goli soda bottle manufacturers. The proprietor, D. Balakrishnan, says that there are barely 1000 bottles at their manufacturing unit. To avoid running into a complete loss, they have started using the common cork bottles (with metallic caps) to fill the drinks. Because of this dearth of Goli soda bottle supplies, each bottle is handled extremely carefully. There are around ten workers at Vasu and Co., and all of them do all the three main jobs here, of delivering, cleaning, and refilling the bottles. The uniqueness of the Goli soda bottle lies in the marble (goli) that lies suspended in the middle of the bottle. The workers here use manually run sodamakers to fill the bottles after the flavouring agents have been mixed in with water and sugar. It is available in several flavours, such as lemon, orange, panneer (rose water), cola, ginger, and as plain soda as well. Considering the number of bottles that are bound to get damaged during transit or due to other reasons, there are a lot of difficulties that the makers of Goli soda face. Apart from this, they also have to compete with bigger companies which provide free refrigerators to sell their products. The makers of Goli soda can neither afford to provide refrigerators to these shops, nor can they manage to keep up with the increasing costs of production because of inflation in sugar and gas cylinder prices. To cut costs, they now focus on delivering only in the surrounding areas of Mylapore and Triplicane in Chennai.

112 Replies to “Prepping for Goli soda”

  1. Hrm, that’s too bad. Goli soda brings to mind Japanese Ramune soda – it has a marble too. It would be cool if the Goli soda proprietors could work with the Japanese manufacturers to find a more cost-effective solution to keep Goli soda alive.

  2. Beautiful image and a very interesting note…

    We used to take this Goli Soda when we were in school and it’s so popular those days.

    Thanks a lot for sharing this image and triggering some nostalgic memories :)

  3. Glad to hear they’ve found a way to carry on production . These bottles are gleaming ! Old Victorian bottles like this are are still to be found here.. usually at Flea Markets and Fairs … Undamaged ones are quite collectible as children used to smash any they found to pinch the marble :-)
    Super photo Joshi .

  4. I am a B&W guy myself, but I like this a lot, nice shot. The bottles and then the two guys all in a line give the image great depth.

  5. I am no saint of photography and neither do I know much but your picture has spoken to me that any other in quite a while. I would suggest this to my cousin who is trying to set up his own photography blog. Absolutely love your website!

  6. A fine photo and narrative. Personally, I think it’s sad to see smaller businesses decline due to overwhelming competition, but that seems to be the name of the game. The nostalgia only makes this soda better, I’m sure. Nicely done, Joshi.

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