No Algerian in the world ignores this authentic and much loved Algerian brand of fizzy drinks, limonades and sirups. It is commonly referred to as El Guezouz (Algerian version of the French word ‘gazeuse’). Hamoud Boualem (حمود بوعلام) is a well-known and loved family-owned business. The first factory was established in 1878 in ex-Belcourt now known as Belouizdad (Algiers) by Youssef Hammoud. In 1889, the limonade Hamoud was presented in the Universal Exhibition (Exposition Universelle 1889) in Paris, where it won the prize for the best drink. It was in the same event that a preliminary prototype of la Tour Effeil was displayed. The brand Hamoud went on to win many more gold medals in various exhibitions (as many as 20 according to some accounts). In the early 1920s, the brand name Hamoud was registered by the grand-son of Youssef Hammoud (Boualem Hammoud) as Hamoud Boualem. Boualem had reportedly contributed to funding the Mosquée de Paris project.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, the Allies brought with them competition for Hamoud Boualem which had now to share the market with the likes of Coca Cola. One of the strategies the company pursued was diversification and this resulted in the creation of the pasta and couscous business.
The company went through bankruptcy during the 1940s. Some stories claim that this was due to colons’ attempts to gain control over the company whilst other accounts blame the mismanagement of its owner who is described as somewhat of a bon vivant. The company was recovered later in 1951 by the son and daughter of Boualem Hammoud (Youssef Hammoud and Tamani Bensmaïne) with the help of the Hafiz family (owners of Hafiz Limonaderie). The two families have blood ties.
Some say that the company provided financial support to the initiators of the Algerian revolution and this led to the emprisonment of Youssef Hammoud in 1956 in Serkaji prison. His business partner, Dahmane Hafiz, managed to flee to Morocco.
After independence, the Algerian government’s nationalization policy was resisted by the owners of Hamoud and seven other Algerian business families. The Hamoud family managed to negotiate an exemption on account of their backing of the revolution, and so the company remained privately owned (the drinks business). However, the governmental policies in the industry sector brought many problems and the company went through severe difficulties from the late 70’s up until the early 90’s where the Algerian economy was opened up.
In 2011, the FDA refused to authorize the commercialization of Hamoud Boualem products in the US. The reasons cited were the presence of dangerous additives and misleading labelling.
The most popular products of Hamoud Boualem are Hamoud (the initial limonade which had a whitish color and was formerly known as la Royale) and the Selecto (a dark brown soda with apple flavor, formerly known as Victoria).
For a detailed history of the compagny, I recommand this website (in French): Hamoud Boualem: le goût de l’Algérie depuis 1878
And this (in Arabic): Hamoud Boualem, a century and quarter of a century saga