Everfresh agrees to drop soft drinks' liquor-like containers


A national beverage company that has gotten a lot of flak over its flasks has agreed to stop marketing soft drinks in containers that resemble bottles of cheap wine.

Everfresh Beverages Inc. of Chicago said it will phase out the flask in a few months when it finds another unique design for its six new soft drinks.

Six weeks ago, the company began selling the new drinks in rectangular containers that resemble flasks of hard liquor or low-end wines such as MD 20/20.

But the marketing plan angered people in Maryland, including Baltimore City Councilwoman Agnes B. Welch of the 4th District. She hastily introduced a bill that would ban the sale of soft drinks in "simulated alcoholic beverage containers."

The bill was put on hold in the council today because the company volunteered to phase out the flasks.

The Maryland Underage Drinking Prevention Coalition threatened to boycott the company, saying the product sent the wrong image to children.

Everfresh chairman and chief executive officer Peter Vitulli dropped the bottle design after meeting last week with critics from Baltimore, Detroit and Chicago.

Karen Evans of the Underage Drinking Prevention Coalition was the Baltimore representative at the meeting.

Mr. Vitulli said the bottles were designed to make the drinks easy to carry and that the overall response has been positive.

"We want to be responsive, however, to the community concerns that were raised about young people drinking," he said. "In no way do we condone drinking by teens. As a result, we are aggressively investigating new package designs that meet consumer demand for portability and at the same time alleviate the concerns raised."

Bonnie M. Holmes, the coalition's coordinator, said she was pleased by Everfresh's decision to phase out the bottles, but said her group would follow up to ensure that the product is removed in the next several months.

"We're accepting in good faith that they will proceed," Ms. Holmes said.

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