"Unadulterated Food Products" may sound like a pretty boring company, but since undergoing a slight rebrand in the 1980s, they've developed into a globally recognized phenomenon that's celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2022. We're talking about Snapple, whose refreshing beverages have been flying off grocery shelves ever since they manufactured their first explosive (and we mean that literally) flavor. Snapple claims to be made from "the best stuff on Earth," but there's more to their story than just quality ingredients. Keep reading to learn more facts about Snapple that will hopefully quench your thirst for knowledge.
The brand name Snapple is a portmanteau of two words — "snappy" and "apple." When the company began in 1972, founders Leonard Marsh, Hyman Golden, and Arnold Greenberg (who ran a health food store in New York City's East Village) aimed to sell fruit juice-based soft drinks. One early product was a carbonated apple soda called "Snapple." That original product wasn't without its issues, however: Some of the bottles would ferment, sending the caps flying. That didn't deter the trio, who went on to become some of the first to sell soft drinks made with natural ingredients. They officially changed the company's name from Unadulterated Food Products to "Snapple" in the early 1980s.
Wendy Kaufman was hired in 1991 to work in Snapple's shipping department. A hardworking, dedicated employee, she noticed the fan mail piling up in the mail room and made it her mission to answer the letters personally, writing or even calling fans back to thank them for their devotion to the brand. Kaufman ultimately rocketed to stardom after being cast as "Wendy the Snapple Lady," a character who appeared in 37 commercials between 1993 and 1995. The commercials featured a fictionalized version of Wendy doing what she did best — reading and answering fan mail — and some of the ads even involved filming at the homes of fans who had written letters.
Part of Snapple's boom in popularity can be attributed to the controversial shock jock Howard Stern. By some accounts, Snapple's founders were big fans of Stern's radio show (by other accounts, it was their ad agency's idea), and decided to pay him for 30 seconds of airtime starting in the 1980s — though Stern would often shoot well past that number. The company also advertised on fellow shock jock Rush Limbaugh's radio show after learning that he was a huge fan of Diet Snapple. Due to various controversies, however, both spokesmen were eventually canned by the company, though their role in helping introduce Snapple to a larger national audience is undeniable.
In a move decried by nutritionists but beloved by those in the city's accounting department, Snapple became the exclusive beverage of New York City in 2003, part of a $166 million deal. It wasn't the first time a beverage brand had signed with a major city — San Diego once had an exclusive deal with Pepsi, and Coca-Cola had a deal with the city of Oakland, California. During Snapple's five-year agreement with New York City, they were the sole provider of drinks in vending machines at city offices, police stations, and schools. While the deal offered an undeniable financial benefit for the city — $8 million a year for the education department alone — Snapple's drinks had more calories and grams of sugar than the sodas they were replacing.
It was no Gatorade, but in 1990, Snapple introduced a line of sports drinks called Snap-Up, which came in four flavors. Two years later, they introduced a tea-flavored version, the same year they expanded into every major U.S. city. Though little is known or remembered about the short-lived Snap-Up, the company did sign major sponsorship deals with several high-profile tennis stars around the same time, including Jennifer Capriati and Ivan Lendl, the latter of whom was part of a $2 million advertising campaign.
Though they've since updated the ingredients to list both apple and pear concentrate, there was a time when Snapple's apple juice drink didn't contain a single drop of real apple juice. Instead, the company used pear juice flavored to taste like apple, perhaps because the flavor of altered pear concentrate more closely resembled what the public expected out of an apple drink than did apple juice itself.
In 2002, Snapple began including short facts, known as "Real Facts," on the underside of their bottle caps. Despite the company's claims that these tidbits are vigorously fact-checked, many of them have been disproved or are otherwise complicated. For instance, fact #868 claims that Thomas Jefferson invented coat hangers, despite Monticello's own website stating otherwise. And though Snapple claims elephants sleep only two hours a night, they actually get between three and seven hours of shut-eye, at least in zoos. So the next time you're amazed by a "Real Fact," you might want to double-check it before believing it.