Milestones & Moments
An innovator true and true: Founder Toshikage Tanida (Nov 1926 – Feb 2018)
Born in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan, Mr. Tanida was a teacher. He also worked in a textile commercial firm and ran a bar business. Mr.
Tanida also served as honorary consul general of Singapore in Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan for 17 years from 1992.
In 1957, Mr. Tanida established Nikka Lemon Co., Ltd for the production and distribution of a lemon beverage. Since
then, he ran the company as its President for about 40 years.
During this time, Mr. Tanida continuously developed new products, and developed authentic canned coffee as well as the Hot or Cold beverage vending machine.
company name changing from Nikka Lemon Co. Ltd to Pokka Lemon Co., Ltd, then to Pokka Corporation, Mr. Tanida expanded the business beyond Japan.
The Beginning of POKKA: When life gives you lemons…
After World War II, Mr. Tanida, then in his 20s, started “Nikka bar, New Nagoya”.
Many new bars were opening in Japan at that time, supporting
a new culture of drinking in the country. Mr. Tanida observed changing lifestyles, notably for women in society. That sparked him to create a clear strategy to “target the ladies.” At that time, lady customers were few, and
they preferred cocktail with lemony flavours such as Gin Fizz.
Before the liberalization of imports, it was very difficult and expensive to import lemon. Furthermore, juice from one lemon only served two glasses of Gin Fizz which
made the drink prohibitively expensive for many.
To bring costs down, Mr. Tanida developed a “Lemon beverage” within half a year, in partnership with a flavour company. With Lemon beverage, he was able to serve Gin Fizz
at a more affordable price. At “Nikka bar, New Nagoya”, many lady customers could enjoy their favourite cocktail every day.
From Drinks to Food
The success of “Nikka bar, New Nagoya” became a hot topic in the restaurant business industry in Japan. Many approached Mr. Tanida for Lemon beverage which led him to see the greater business
potential of the drink.
Mr. Tanida left the bar business to his partner and in 1957, established Nikka Lemon Co., Ltd., a business solely dedicated to the production and distribution of Lemon beverage.
as a cocktail mix, Lemon beverage later became a seasoning for foods. In 1960s, seasoning for foods became the main business.
Name Change to Pokka Lemon Co., Ltd.
Nikka Lemon Co., Ltd. was given name from “Nikka bar, New Nagoya”. To avoid confusion with Japan’s famous alcohol beverage brand and to separate from alcohol
related as main business have shifted from professional use to family use, Mr. Tanida decided to change the company name to Pokka Lemon Co., Ltd.
It is alleged that the name Pokka was inspired by something Mr. Tanida read
in a golf magazine — an article on formal golf wear referred to “Knickerbocker” which to Mr. Tanida sounded similar to “Nikka Pokka”.
He uttered “Knickerbocker….Nikkabocker…..Nikka
Pokka…Pokka….Pokka……. Pokka Lemon”. And the rest was history. The company name was changed to Pokka Lemon Co., Ltd.
Naturally, new products.
In 1967, the 10th anniversary year of Pokka, the management of POKKA Lemon Co., Ltd moved the focus from one core product to creating a second and third core product. Deepening research on Lemon,
the new products would be developed with lemon juice. The results were canned “Lemon Lemon POKKA” and “Lemon Squash”. Launched in 1972, they were a big and instant hit!
In the same year, Lemon beverage was
relaunched as “100% Lemon Juice, POKKA 100 Lemon.
With these high-quality products, Pokka had reinforced the trust of its consumers in its brand.
Waking up to POKKA Coffee
In 1968, on a winter’s night on a long drive to Osaka from Nagoya, Mr. Tanida’s chauffer requested for a coffee break.
Mr. Tanida observed that many truck drivers were
drinking cold drinks at the parking lot in the dark and freezing night. He thought to himself, “If we could drink Hot coffee in the car… while driving, we would not have to delay reaching our destination!”
was the origin of POKKA Coffee and the Hot or Cold Vending machine.
A World-Loved Brand Is Born
POKKA products are now being exported to more than 50 countries. The bestseller POKKA Jasmine Green Tea was launched in 1998. Today, there are over
700 POKKA vending machines in Singapore.