A soda brand called Spiro Spathis, after the name of its Greek founder, has seen sales skyrocket after its support for the ‘Boycott Israel” consumer movement.
Spiro Spathis was founded in 1920 by one of the thousands of Greeks who made Egypt their home.
Thanks to a nationwide campaign to boycott Western producers supportive of Israel, the century-old brand is causing a stir as the poster child for Egyptian solidarity with Palestinians.
Spiro Spathis, which has always been proud of its role as Egypt’s first soft drink brand, is rolling out slogans like “100% Made in Egypt” and “Egypt’s original gazouza”, using an Egyptian term thought to derive from the French “gazeuse” (carbonated) and widely used to refer to fizzy drinks, Al Jazeera reports.
Demand for Spiro Spathis soda skyrockets
“Demand has tripled over the past month,” Morcus Talaat, the company’s head of marketing and one of three siblings who own the firm, told Al Jazeera.
“We’ve received hundreds of calls from new clients… offers from restaurants,” he said speaking from an upscale Cairo neighborhood where Spiro Spathis has its headquarters.
Spiro Spathis has gone on a recruitment drive and received more than 15,000 applicants for jobs it advertised to try to meet the demand.
Since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas, Egyptians have been using social media to exchange information about which brands are considered supportive of Israel and should be avoided. Some apps are also listing alternatives to Western brands, highlighting local producers of equal or similar quality, Al Jazeera says.
“Is it with us, or not?” is a question frequently asked on Meta posts about various brands, as people research which to give up.
Outlets of brands such as Starbucks, McDonald’s and Domino’s Pizza sit empty or are lightly frequented in Arab cities such as Cairo, Amman, Beirut, Kuwait and Doha, indicating the depth of anger felt by many Arabs over the war.
Spiro Spathis the first soda drinks manufacturer in Egypt
The result has been the rediscovery of local substitutes like Spiro Spathis, which was once the only soda drinks manufacturer in the Arab world’s most populous country.
Spiro Spathis has been part of life for generations of Egyptians. It was founded in 1920 by a Greek beekeeper from Kefalonia whose name it bears. The company also has a bee in its logo a reference to the founder’s profession. He produced the First ever Soda Drink in Egypt The Lemonade Flavor.
He was born in Greece in 1885 and immigrated to Egypt at the age of fifteen. He studied in Egyptian schools, married and had four children, some of whom returned to Greece and others stayed with him in Egypt.
The factory was located in the center of Cairo. Egypt became Spiros Spathi’s “adopted home” and his business served as a platform to introduce fresh and innovative drinks.
In the beginning, the factory employed about 150 workers and had 20 vehicles to distribute the products all over Egypt, from Alexandria to Aswan, and also used railways to deliver the products to distant areas in southern Egypt and elsewhere. At that time, it was the official and most popular drink for all social classes of the country.
Stathis received the Medal for best soda drink in Egypt by King Farouk the First and his company had been the Official Soda Supplier to the King’s Palace.