Loganberry: The Buffalo Drink You'll Like or Love

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Buffalo Foods: Loganberry
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"Some restaurants use the wrong ratio of syrup to water, resulting in a too-diluted, forgettable version or an inedibly strong version. Try Aunt Rosie's as a benchmark."

If someone told you that there was a delicious fruit-flavored soft drink that was only available in one region of the United States, all but completely unknown outside of that region, and yet bottled by Pepsi-Cola, would you believe it? Well, it's true, and the beverage is Loganberry - also known as Loganberry Juice - a rich red, uncarbonated drink that is now sold in cans, bottles, and even jugs of syrup. You'll be hard-pressed to find it outside of Buffalo, unless you're in Southern Ontario, Canada, but you'll be surprised at where you can find something close.

The Secret: Originally cultivated in California in the 1880s, Loganberry is an actual berry, a hybrid made from accidentally crossing a raspberry with a blackberry. According to legend, the Loganberry wasn't popular as a fruit on the West Coast, but quickly found success in beverage form at a Lake Erie summer resort (and now-defunct amusement park) called Crystal Beach. Though the Crystal Beach park is closed, the beach community lives on, as does the Loganberry drink - properly served sweet, with a thick consistency, without carbonation. A Canadian company called Cronfelt continues to sell the classic version of Loganberry in syrup form, instructing buyers of its Cronfelt's Crystal Beach Loganberry Beverage Syrup ($5/1 qt.) to mix four parts water to every one part of syrup, but pre-made versions are better-known and more popular today. Pepsi-Cola bottles and sells the well-known brand Aunt Rosie's Loganberry, which we swear by and have been able to enjoy in both bottled and syrup jug form.

Notably, a more recent competitor, PJ's Crystal Beach Loganberry, is now sold in regular, diet, and sparkling versions, the latter two never previously conceived due to the sugary sweetness and syrupy consistency of the original. The maker of PJ's, Sarasoda, previously partnered with Niagara Falls, NY-based Johnnie Ryan to sell a version to restaurants; now independent of PJ's, this version is known as Johnnie Ryan's Sugar Cane Loganberry, which like Cronfelt's version uses sugar as a sweetener rather than corn syrup.

The Shame: Other than the fact that it's hard to find outside of Buffalo, something that the makers of PJ's Crystal Beach Loganberry are trying to change, the only Loganberry shames are these - the canned Aunt Rosie's version has traditionally had an awful metallic taste that should be avoided at all costs. Some restaurants use the wrong ratio of syrup to water, resulting more often in a too-diluted, forgettable version than an inedibly strong version. And finally, we're not huge fans of the PJ's or Johnnie Ryan's versions, as they're thinner than our favorites; the latter at least has the right sweetness, if not the right viscosity. If you're not from the area, our advice would be to try Aunt Rosie's as a benchmark, so you'll know what it's supposed to be like elsewhere.

The Alternatives: Surprisingly, a completely different fruit, the Lingonberry, has been incorporated into a very similar drink that's available in Ikea store restaurants. Though Ikea's Lingonberry Juice isn't as strong as Loganberry, and tastes a little more tart and less sweet as it's derived from a more cranberry-esque berry, it's good enough to pass muster when you can't get the real thing.

(Note: This article was last updated March 4, 2009.)

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Comments (9)

paul janik :

the cane sugar loganberry that is made by the johnnie ryan company has no affiliation with pj's crytal beach loganberry. i own johnnie ryan and we used to manufacture loganberry for pj's , but that ended a few years ago. I just wanted to make that known.

Thanks, Paul - the article has been updated with the new information!

Chris Cook :

I would like to comment that the pj's Crystal Beach loganberry syrup does not even come close to the Cronfelts which in my eyes is the original and the best. I grew up in Ridgeway Ontario and alwyas had the Cronfelts. Nothing comes close. It was a sad day when tops quit carrying the Cronfelts.

Krysta :

Ahhhh, loganberry. I spent my whole summers in Crystal Beach when I was a kid and that was pretty much the drink of the season. We always made it with the Confelts syrup, and we still use it to this day. Crystal Beach suckers + french fries from the beach's snack stand + loganberry = a happy summer!

I'd love to see more reviews on the food from our Canadian neighbors. In Niagara-on-the-Lake, there are great restaurants and bakeries to try, and some of the best fruit orchards. Whenever I go, I never leave without peaches, jars of Greaves jam and an eccle cake.

Jim :

Having moved away from WNY years ago, Loganberry drink is a favorite when we order regional foods, my boys have grown up in states other than NY but upon trying Loganberry, they too love the stuff. Shipping Loganberry is most economically efficient with concentrate. We were in WNY in August and found Crystal Beach Brand Concentrate in Wegmans, we have tried it mixed 4 parts water to 1 part concentrate and 5 parts water. The 5 part mix is not bad but not as good as the 4 part. Crystal Beach Brand uses high Fructose Corn Syrup. Cronfelt's mixed in the recomended 4to1 mix taste the best, also noted it is made with sugar not corn syrup.
Cronfelt's seems to be very hard to get now. When we were in Buffalo we went to Premeir on Delaware, thay no longer had it, we could not find it in Tops or Wegmans. I managed to get a half case a year ago form a distrubutor I can no longer find. To clarify as I have seen other inquiries on the net regarding Loganberry, Cronfelt's is made by Vitality Foods in Barre Ontario. I called Vitality and found Premier was no longer ordering Cronfelt's due to duties and taxes amking it too expensive. Premier now lists the Crystal Beach Brand.
Vitality also recomended No Frills in Niagara Falls but they told me they no longer stock it. he last lead was an Italian Market on Grant Steet in Buffalo (Guercios ?). He did have it in stock when I bought a case in September.
Cronfelt's is definitely better, worth getting if you can find it.
Sorry for the long post but I thought I'd give a lot of clear answers about Loganberry Drink I have read here and elsewhere on the net.

dave :

I am looking for a source to buy loganberry syrup for a new Buffalo restaurant we are opening down in Tampa. Anyone have an idea?? Please help!!


Barbara Bak Dougherty :

Ahhhh, those were the days. A boat ride from Buffalo to Crystal Beach on the Canadiana Steam Boat. French Fries in a cone with Malt vinegar and I remember the suckers too...some unusual flavors, those, I think cinnamon was my favorite. Hours and hours of roller skating and the "Comet" rollercoaster. Summer at it's best.
Does anyone remember the Queeno company in Buffalo? They sold syrup in glass jugs to mix with water and Loganberry was by far the most popular flavor, so strong it was almost intoxicating!

Jim H :

I passed through Buffalo as a kid once, then drove through a few times on the way to/from Ohio in recent years with a stop at the Cracker Barrel in Depew from time to time, but it wasn't until my girlfriend and I won free tickets to a Sabers game that we decided to make the three-hour trip a "taste of Buffalo" adventure as well. We enjoyed beef on weck and both types of hot dogs at Charlie the Butcher's, then wings at Duff's, visited my girlfriend's former high school classmate, went to Wegman's where we picked up hot dogs, Loganberry, and a pastry heart, then went to the game.

We enjoyed the pastry heart while walking from the parking lot to the game, and it was very yummy. We did a lot of research before our trip, and we agreed it was best to enjoy the pastry heart while we were in Buffalo instead of trying to get more to bring home. Not sure if Wegman's pastry hearts are as good as other places, but at least we got to try one.

Along the way, our Mapquest directions were wrong from time to time, but Buffalo's streets are arranged in a logical-enough order that we weren't lost enough to freak out. We can't say the same about Albany. As such, there was no time during our adventure that we felt uncomfortable.

Two things we didn't find at Wegman's were weck rolls and sponge candy. We were disappointed at first, but we liked Buffalo so much that it gives us another reason to go back there. It isn't uncommon for us to drive five or six hours each way on a same-day adventure, so the three hour drive each way to Buffalo isn't bad...and Buffalo is now our favorite city to travel to. We look forward to a lot of return trips to experience even more.

The only Loganberry we found at Wegman's was PJ's Crystal Beach, and we brought two 2-liter bottles home to share with family. That was a BIG mistake, because everyone loved it and there wasn't enough to go around. At Charlie the Butcher's, we were so excited about ordering beef on weck and the hot dogs that we completely forgot to order Loganberry to wash it down. Oops.

Since PJ's Crystal Beach Loganberry seems to be available in the Saratoga Springs area and this weekend's adventure brought us to the Watervliet/Troy/Cohoes area on a "little hot dog" foodie quest, we hoped to find Crystal Beach Loganberry on the way back. No such luck. If it's available in the Saratoga Springs area, Albany doesn't seem to be close enough to get it...and the drive to Saratoga Springs didn't fit into our schedule. We will try again when we go through Saratoga Springs on our way to Glens Falls, but it is more likely that we will check out the Rochester area before that. Seeing how Rochester has some Buffalo foods as well as some of their own, hopefully we will find Loganberry there. Our next trip to Buffalo will happen some time after our trip to Rochester...but it can't happen soon enough for the two of us.

When we do find Loganberry again, we will load up big time. Our families enjoy the yummy stuff we bring back from our adventures, and Loganberry is on the top of the list. Woohoo!

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