Face on the soda bottle

The next time you are sipping a Jones Soda, don’t be surprised to see Lindsey Wilbarger, junior, staring back at you.

“I was completely surprised,” said Wilbarger, winner of a Jones Soda label competition. “I never win anything!”

Wilbarger, a life science major at the University, and an employee at the Perrysburg Panera Bread, was one out of 18 winners in a nationwide contest run by Jones Soda, which asked all Panera associates to send in their best snapshots for a chance to see their photos on a bottle of the soda.

When Wilbarger first heard about the contest last year, she entered about 20 photographs on a whim, but never expected to win. This January, when she received the letter informing her that she had won, the contest was the last thing on her mind.

The photo captures Wilbarger jumping above the rocks of Arches National Park in Utah. Former BG student Kevin Kennedy took the winning photograph in 2005 while he and Wilbarger were both enrolled in GeoJourney, a program which allows students to travel to the country’s national parks over a nine-week trip.

“That day was like my favorite day of GeoJourney,” Wilbarger said, looking at the winning photo. “It was so amazing. We were up so high; it was like we were on top of the world.”

Wilbarger also dabbles in photography, but ironically Kennedy took all of the photos she submitted.

“I give major props to Kevin for taking this picture,” she said. “We took like 30 pictures that day.”

Jones Soda is known for being a creative outlet for amateur photographers. According to the company’s official Web site, www.jonessoda.com, anyone can send a picture over e-mail or directly on the Web site and enter to win a chance to have a picture featured on a soda bottle.

In 2002, the company teamed up with Panera and began to market six soda flavors, which would be sold exclusively at Panera stores. They gave all associates the opportunity to produce their own customized labels.

The “Panera Signature Series” routinely rotates the art on the labels and ships the sodas out to over 100 stores nationwide. Wilbarger’s photo is featured on the “Berry White” soda flavor bottle, a fruity soda made with strawberry and grapefruit flavors.

While there was no prize money awarded, Wilbarger did receive two copies of the label in the mail and a newly found fame at work.

Since January, Wilbarger has become something of a minor celebrity at the Perrysburg Panera among friends and co-workers. She said she often receives phone calls from friends who have spotted her bottle on the shelf of a Panera restaurant, or a co-worker will point out the picture to a customer.

One of her professors has even pointed out her picture in class.

“It’s pretty cool,” Wilbarger said of her sudden stardom. “It’s something different you know?”

The Perrysburg Panera is just as excited for Wilbarger as her co-worker, Ariel Grube, who said the store is “really proud of Lindsey – she took a great photo.”

After a minute Grube added, “We just think it’s awesome!”