A few years ago, Bill Sabo, known as “The Flavor Guy,” was 49 years old, he was a body builder and an athlete who never gained a lot of weight. Yet, he consumed massive amounts of soda pop. Early on in life, Bill’s Grandfather warned him about consuming large amounts of sugar, but he continued to drink soda pop to his heart’s content— until he had a heart attack. “I woke up in the middle of the night with these terrible pains in my leg. I thought it was from an old basketball injury. So, I didn’t do anything about it. The pain continued to get worse. It moved up my right leg, into my shoulder, and through my arms. Then my heart began to beat like I was on a roller coaster. I went to the hospital finally, and that’s where they diagnosed me. They said, ‘It’s not a basketball injury, you had a heart attack.’ I had 90% blockage of the main artery where it splits,” said Sabo.
Although Bill’s prognosis wasn’t good because of the type of blockage, his doctors recommended that he wait many years to perform the surgery, until his kids had grown older, when they felt it would be a better time to operate. Sabo explained, “As the pain became more and more pronounced, over a period of months, I realized I wasn’t going to make it to 65. So an appointment was arranged with Dr. Steven Gundry. While I was waiting for my appointment, I got ahold of his book, Dr. Gundry’s Diet Evolution, and I knew what the book was telling me was true. It read like my history—about sugar and carbs—every Sunday at our house was spaghetti Sunday. And, usually the leftovers lasted two or three days. When Dr. Gundry saw me, the blood work revealed enormous amounts of inflammation in all parts of my body due to an overabundance of sugar.”
The Quest To Quench A Thirst For Good Tasting Soda—Without The Sugar
As a Flavor Chemist, Bill knew that all the elements existed to create what he craved—all the taste of his favorite sodas with zero sugar. Yet, for some reason, nobody was producing these products. “I started to think, how could I create a soda that would mimic all sodas out there that we all love, and taste just like them, without all the sugar and additives? I knew there had to be a way. So I began to experiment with good quality flavors, like aged vanilla for a cream soda and roots and plant materials to make an old style root beer. All I had to do was make natural sweeteners work together to mimic sugar, and combine them with the right flavors. That’s how it started,” shared Sabo.
Enter The Begleys
At a Gift Show, Bill shared his story with someone he met who worked with the Begleys. After trying Bill’s soda, he said, “You know, I have a client that would be really interested in this. But I won’t tell you who it is because I’ve got to present it to him first.” A few days later, Ed Begley Jr. and his wife, Rachelle sampled Bill’s sodas and after they tried a few, Ed said, “I’m in. I want to be part of this.”“That began the journey of Begley’s and Bill’s Natural Sodas. Ed and Rachelle are so committed and supportive – all the time and energy they provide, I appreciate it so much,” said Sabo.
How Sweet It Is— Without The Sugar
Begley’s and Bill’s all-natural craft soda gets its sweetness from SweetenFX, a proprietary blend of natural sweeteners. Bill shares that Begley’s and Bill’s Natural Sodas are not cheap soda to produce because their natural sweeteners cost more than sugar, and even though they’re priced similarly to other craft sodas on the market, actual cost is higher than for products that are not as healthy. Sugar is cheaper, but because it’s under attack, demand is going down for sodas loaded with sugar. “I think SweetenFX has the ability to go into most anything that sugar goes into, as a replacement, because it acts just like sugar. We’ve nearly completed R&D on an isotonic drink similar to a Gatorade type product and we’ve developed a line of baked goods including brownie, cookie and waffle mixes. Our Belgian waffle-style formula is not only sugar-free, but also wheat-free and gluten-free. I think we’ll look at other products, as we move forward, that we can label under Begley’s and Bill’s. a