For most Capetonians the colourful Bashew's soft drink bottles represent a lifetime of good memories from childhood parties, picnics, weddings and special times with friends and family. Today, Bashew's bottles and crates adorn trendy fashion stores, restaurants and delicatessens today. They have even found their way into television shows, music videos and theatre productions.
For the past four decades, Bashew's has been delivering the famous 300ml returnable bottles door-to-door in neighbourhoods throughout Cape Town and in nearby country towns.
Bakkies piled high with wooden crates filled with colourful Bashew's soft drinks, collecting empty bottles and replacing them with full ones, is still as much a part of the fabric of community life in many neighbourhoods across greater Cape Town today as it was 40 years ago.
Founded originally by the Bashew brothers, Marx and Harry, it all started in the spring of 1899 when the Anglo-Boer War broke out and thousands of British soldiers were based on Green Point Common in Cape Town on their way to the north. Most of these men had never been exposed to such a hot climate or the Cape's notorious southeaster before. The two Bashew brothers saw an
opportunity to cater for the needs of the soldiers by supplying them with their refreshing, fruity soft drinks. They built up a good reputation in no time and their cart and horse bringing much-needed refreshment became a regular feature at the military mess.
In 1902 after the war, the Bashew brothers capitalised on their good reputation and shifted their focus to supply the civilian community and in 1903 the company moved to larger premises in Aspeling Street in District 6.
In 1913 the Bashew brothers opened their own factory in Searle Street in Cape Town. The 48-year partnership from 1899 to 1947 finally came to an end when Harry passed away in 1947 followed two years later by Marx in 1949.
After their death, Bashew Bros. remained a family business headed by Charles Bashew and in 1951 the company took occupation of their new factory in Gunner's Circle, Epping.
After 1955 the company established franchise agreements with three world-famous international soft drinks companies providing access to the latest recipes and techniques developed in America and Europe. The first franchise was granted by the Seven-Up Export Corporation of New York to manufacture the popular 7-Up drink for the South African market. The other franchise agreement was with John G. Webb of London, which allowed Bashew Bros. to manufacture Webb's Tonic water. Soon afterwards, Bashew Bros. were licensed to manufacture Cydrax, a non-alcoholic beverage by Whiteways Cider Company in Devon, England.
The Bashew family relinquished ownership of the company in 1969 when they sold it to a Cape Town businessman Ismail Mammon. His son, Moosa took over the business after his father's death in 1991 and sold it in 2009 to the current owners Zahir Williams and Mehboob Adams.
Today, two fully automated SABS-monitored bottling assembly lines work around the clock and
over 100 community-based entrepreneurs distribute the product to selected outlets and from door to door in certain neighbourhoods.
Whilst door-to-door delivery will always remain at the heart of the Bashew's business, the company is making inroads into the formal retail sector, particularly in the Western Cape where Bashew's soft drinks can be found in Fruit & Veg City and will soon be available at leading chain stores.
For more information, go to www.bashews.co.za.