At Reis-Nichols, there is more than jewelry in the family history. The Nichols siblings’ maternal grandfather, Harry Normington, Sr. is the inventor of the nostalgic drink, Choc-Ola. If you grew up in Indiana in the 1950s-70s, you’ve tasted the yummy chocolaty drink at least once or twice. The key to this milk-based beverage is that it never needed refrigeration, a secret of the drink made possible by Normington’s pioneering of the pasteurization process. Simply shake and enjoy!

The chocolate milk-like drink recipe was invented by Normington in the 1940s and he started production here in Indianapolis on Churchman Avenue, later purchasing a truck route to distribute the tasty beverage in Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan. Mrs. Ethel Nichols, the daughter of Harry Normington and mother to all 5 Nichols siblings, was one of eight children.  She grew-up in the factory, as did most of her brothers and sisters, working to help out the family business.  All of the Nichols siblings remember drinking this tasty treat on a regular basis, as it was the staple drink in their home instead of soda pop.

Mr. Normington sold the business at the height of its success in 1977 to Moxie Industries before it changed hands again in 1985 to The Chocolate Group, which owns competitor Yoo-Hoo. This is when the drink fell out of production and into history.

Recently, Dan Iaria and Joe Wolfla partnered together in August 2010 after Iaria opened Rock Cola Cafe on the east side of Indianapolis.  The goal was to first to just serve the drink in Iaria’s Cafe, but after much demand, the two started mass producing the nostalgic beverage again.  It is now being produced and sold by Prairie Farms in half gallon jugs at all Safeway stores and Martin Supermarkets in Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri and Michigan.

To see additional recent press on Choc-Ola from the Indianapolis Star and the IBJ, click on the links below:

December 07, 2011