The Mile High Ginger Ale Club

On a recent business trip from Denver to Seattle, as the beverage cart finally rolled its way to the working class, I kept hearing the same order over and over. "Ginger Ale please." At least five people around me ordered it. I ordered it too.

Now, I love a Moscow Mule as much as anybody--  maybe even more. There's no substitute for that spicy ginger taste mixed with your favorite spirit. But I never drink Ginger Ale unless I am cruising at 10,000 feet. My wife have discussed this on several flights-- she is a devout high-altitude Ginger Ale drinker. Solo this time, I turned to the lady next to me and asked whether she drinks Ginger Ale on the ground.  "That's funny, I never really do." Yep. Another one.

I recently heard a This American Life story on people who cry during in-flight movies. Turns out they can't help themselves, no matter how bad the movie. One guy will even cry during a particularly touching Amex ad. Speeding through the stratosphere in an aluminum tube, bending time, does funny things to a human who was meant to get around on his/her feet.

I did a quick Facebook Poll. Here are some of the responses I got (this was one of my favorite all-time FB threads by the way):

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What is it about Ginger Ale? According to my FB peeps, and further analysis, it appears that our bodies are tuned into the benefits of Ginger, a well-known motion sickness helper. What's interesting to me is that many people are ordering it without even experiencing motion sickness. It's like an sub-conscious preemptive strike. We crave it for its taste without even knowing we might need it in a physiological level. I wonder if they serve Ginger Ale on ferries, and if so, do they sell a lot of it?

What do the brand managers of Schweppes, Seagrams and Canada Dry make of this whole thing? It's probably very frustrating for them. They have a product that absolutely dominates market share on airplanes (no, you can't choose between multiple brands up there), yet margins are probably very low, and then on terra firma nobody buys it.

It seems to me like one of those situations where you have to just own it. Kind of like Peeps on Easter. Create a premium product (I wonder for instance how Gosling's would do on a plane) and aggressively market it for use at altitude. And what about Ginger candies? I found a Reddit article that calculated 805,000 people are flying at this very moment so it seems like a pretty big niche if you look at it that way.

So who's with me? Let's create the Mile High Ginger Beer Club Brand. Kickstarter, anyone?

Todd Olsen