Published on: Sun, Oct 02, 2016
Saturday is another Mean Green Game Day in Denton. It’s a 6 p.m. kickoff, which means plenty of time for hanging out downtown and tailgating before the game. Last week, game day shuttles were upped from two to four, thanks to Mean Green Game Day transportation sponsor, Jagoe-Public. Fans love the free hop-on/hop-off shuttles at stops every 15 minutes. Shuttles will run Saturday from 4 p.m. until one hour after the game ends.
The Discover Denton Welcome Center on the square is the downtown Mean Green Game Day Headquarters. Visitors get free pom-poms and Game Day pocket guides. And Saturday, Aqua Pop will be in the house with samples of their locally-produced, healthy, sparkling water.
Don’t stop reading! Healthy does not mean tasteless. Let me tell you the Aqua Pop story.
Rob Peters grew up here, attended UNT, and is now the Aqua Pop man. His foray into Denton business began in the early 90s while he was still a UNT student.
It was pre-Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studio and pre-Dan’s Silver Leaf. Rob dreamed of opening a live music venue where bands would come to play in Denton.
What started with occasional house shows evolved into The Argo, Rob’s first business venture and the first true live music venue in Denton, credited by industry folks as instrumental in starting the Denton scene we know today. Student housing now sits atop The Argo’s old location on Oak Street in the Fry Street district. But Rob’s place did its job jump-starting Denton’s music city reputation.
After The Argo, Rob worked as the senior graphic designer in UNT Printing & Distribution Solutions for eight years, did a stint as creative director for a Dallas ad agency, and then freelanced for a marketing firm. During the freelance years, he started seriously working on an idea he had back at UNT.
Rob was a heavy consumer in the sparkling water phenomenon’s early days. His entrepreneurial spirit got him wondering if he could make instead of buy it. Mastering the making came quickly, and Rob moved on to figuring a way to make the drink healthy with real fruit instead of extracts.
Grapefruit, lemon and lime tests proved Rob’s idea was a good one. His concoction was tasty and real. Aqua Pop was born in March 2015.
Everyone told Rob the industry was tough. Rob says still water, like Ozarka and Aquafina, are number one on the bottled drink best-seller list and sparkling water is the fastest-growing segment. He senses the time is ripe for introducing a premium product.
The tough part, however, is true. Juice instead of extract means Aqua Pop requires refrigeration and has a shelf life of 30 days. And as a start-up company, Rob needs small quantities compared to the mass-produced extract version. Profit-driven bulk producers and big-box stores are still resistant, but he’s confident the tide is turning as demand for Aqua Pop increases.
Aqua Pop has some 50 outlets in Denton and Dallas, and Fort Worth is emerging. Clients vary from business and home delivery to retail establishments like Atomic Candy, Dan’s Silver Leaf, and Chestnut Tree among others in Denton. It’s a labor of love at this point. Rob self-delivers to every location twice a month.
When I commented on pulp floating in my bottle of lime-flavored Aqua Pop, Rob confided he wasn’t sure at first how pulp would float with consumers. But it’s working.
“People see pulp and an expiration date on the bottle and say, ‘Wow, it’s actually real!” Rob said.
The “Go Texas” seal on the bottle is a mark of pride for Rob. The identification is important as he looks to the future with high ambition: an Aqua Pop shop in Denton; a dedicated production facility where he can introduce more flavors; distribution in schools.
With only four calories, no sugar and no artificial anything, Aqua Pop is a healthy option for carbonation lovers. Rob’s underlying passion is addressing health and wellness with something that’s good and real.
“Aqua Pop should be part of a changing American palette, because all we’ve got are salt and sugar,” Rob said. “We’ve got to get off some of this stuff. And this (Aqua Pop) is one thing that can help you do that.”
One of the Mean Green shuttle stops is right in front of the Discover Denton Welcome Center. Rob and Aqua Pop will be there starting at 2 p.m. this Saturday. Try it. It’s a game-changer!