I had a serious case of spring fever and a road trip was in order. However, my wallet was not cooperating! CP not only restricts my mobility, it restricts my income opportunities. As I work on projects for future income, I live by the motto “Money can’t buy you happiness”. However, I had to scratch that itch to venture out on the open road. The cure was not too far from my home town. Twigs Beverage Museum not only helped me beat the winter blues, it was gentle on my wallet!
Shawano is located about an hour away from my hometown of Wausau. It is a relatively easy drive. You may think this town is pronounced “Sha-wah-no” However, “Shaw-no” is the correct pronunciation. Twigs Beverage was easy to find and had parking right in front of the building. However, it disappointing to to discover no marked accessible spaces (that we could find). Luckily (and with the help of my grandfather), we found a spot that also had enough space for my ramp.
The ramp into the building was easy to zip up and into the door. The door was not automatic, but with someone holding it open, I had no trouble rolling in. The museum is small and cozy. Despite this, the space itself was open and free flowing. I loved looking at all the old advertisements and reading the generational history of Twigs Beverage.
Floyd “Twig” Hartwig started Twigs Beverage in 1951. Twigs Beverage had a very humble beginning, with Floyd mixing his soft drink recipes with an ax handle! Sun-Drop made its debut in Shawano when the inventor, Charles Lazier, approached Floyd about bottling his soda. Twigs Beverage continues to make Sun-Drop with 100% pure sugar. You have not tasted the best Sun-Drop, if it was not bottled at Twigs! In 1986, Floyd handed over the reigns to his son, Dan Hartwig, who continues to be the president and owner of Twigs Beverage.
In 2015, Twigs Beverage opened up a museum and gift shop to share the rich history of this local, family operated business. Sun-Drop artifacts and memorabilia fill the walls of this small museum. It was really fun comparing the earlier advertising to what we currently see. They also had old soda machines which brought back memories for my Grandfather and Nana. They even have an older working jukebox which plays a song for a quarter! The absolute best part is the museum is free!
The absolute highlight of our visit was the tasting room. In 2015, Twigs Beverage introduced a line of gourmet sodas. The tasting room consists of a bar with stools and several tables. It was in the tasting room where we met Jordan, an absolute asset to Twigs Beverage. He engaged us in conversation about the history of the sodas and the business. Jordan took us through the entire list of sodas for the ULTIMATE sugar high! With Sun-Drop being the exception, all the sodas were caffeine free. Luckily for me, all the sodas were gluten free! I should mention that there is no charge for the tasting! It simply does not get better than that!
I discovered that my soda palate is not adventurous. I really enjoyed the old time flavors. Butterscotch root beer, grape, orange and black cherry were a few of my favorites. Of course, Sun-Drop is on the top of my list! My palate was not sophisticated enough for caramel apple, sour, or peach cobbler. However, when patronizing the tasting room, I encourage you to live dangerously and try them all!
There is also a small movie theater. We did not watch the Twig’s flick because we ran out of time. But they have old fashioned seating, with room for my wheelchair. There is also a popcorn machine with free popcorn! The popcorn, which is made with coconut oil, was awesome.
Twigs Movie Theater
Twigs Movie Theater
Our last stop was the gift shop. I am now a die hard Twigs fan, so I had to indulge in a 6 pack of my favorite flavors. They have a mix and match option, which is really consumer friendly. They also had t-shirts, signs and other memorabilia for sale. The gift shop was tight and I was not able to navigate the entire space. However, the Twig’s staff is so incredibly friendly and helpful. Sometimes space and layout challenges are overcome by excellent customer service and friendliness!
I highly recommend making the journey to this charming town. There was so much we did not have time to explore, so I will be making a return trip. Twig’s will always be on my agenda when I pass through Shawano. It is a perfect day trip destination for all ages, especially families on tight budgets.
Thank you Hartwig Family! Your museum proves to be wheelchair friendly. The museum and tasting room is not only enjoyable, it is most definitely affordable for all. Your dedication to small business values and to your community is so appreciated.
Until next time, Keep Rollin’ and Keep Smilin’
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