Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Snapple's Strawberry Lemonade

Who knows when, but at some point in the mid-1990s, Snapple axed its Strawberry Lemonade flavor. This was, to me, devastating, as Snapple's Strawberry Lemonade was my juice drink of choice when I found myself at a convenience store during the juice drink craze of the early to mid-1990s. (Who needed Fruitopia, anyway?) On its official site, Snapple now lists "Strawberry Lemonade" as a retired flavor with this introduction:
Back in the day, you may have seen some of these flavors on the shelf, or better yet, enjoyed them yourself. They tirelessly worked the aisles of stores everywhere and earned respect for time served. So we came to the mutual decision that it was time for them to retire. Enjoy the golden years. Play a little golf. Paint. Travel. Here's your chance to wish them well.
I suppose it would have been too easy - or too straightforward - just to say the flavor didn't sell well enough. Nevertheless, I am not the first to lament strawberry Lemonade's demise:
Snapple made this excellent strawberry lemonade that was unbeatable. Julie and I were addicted--we even walked up to the local gas station right before the curtain of the musical to buy some. The summer after my freshman year, we regularly rollerbladed to the gas station to get our fix (that was before I learned the hard way that rollerblading with a glass bottle in your hand is generally not a good idea...ask me about it later). And then Snapple went and discontinued that wondrous drink.

I called Snapple to complain and beg them to bring it back, and got my very first taste of effective customer service. They promised to send me coupons for free Snapple so I could "find a new favorite." Not as good as bringing back the strawberry lemonade, but still nice. (For the record, no Snapple drink measures up. And Fruitopia had an inferior but acceptable berry lemonade substitute, which we drank for a few months until they went and discontinued that on us as well.)
That entry makes me wonder how many complaints or comments the beverage company received in response to its (apparently) sudden decision to withdraw the flavor from the market. Notes another fellow on his MySpace blog:

It's bad enough that [Snapple] retired my favorite flavor, strawberry lemonade, years ago, but since the "energy drink" craze kicked in the juice section at the gas station has been dwindled to apple or orange, or those weird Sobe flavors with energy drink added in.
Even fictional characters enjoy the flavor. In Victor McGlothin's 2003 novel, Autumn Leaves, the author writes:

Marshall found himself thirsty after the lengthy exercise and wanted more than water to drink. The nearby 7-Eleven was just the place he needed to get what he wanted to quench his thirst, a twenty-four ounce strawberry lemonade-flavored Snapple, his favorite.

There is little official word on the Internets or elsewhere on the death of Strawberry Lemonade, but I did manage to find something about its birth. The flavor was unveiled in mid-March of 1993 only a day after two competing Nestea flavors were introduced:

Snapple president Leonard Marsh said that yesterday's announcement wasn't a reaction to the Nestea introduction, noting that a trade publication previously reported Snapple's new flavors. Snapple introduced three new iced teas, strawberry, diet peach and home style; three new juice drinks, Mango Madness Cocktail, Strawberry Lemonade and Melonberry Cocktail, and a new soda flavor, kiwi-peach. This expands the company's offerings to 59 flavors, including 14 iced teas.

"If you look at the Nielsens, you'll see why we believe in a wide range of tea flavors," Marsh said. Chicago-based Nielsen Market Research last month said Snapple holds a 28.2 percent share of all supermarket sales of fresh-brewed iced tea, followed by Nestea with 18.9 percent and Lipton with 12.2 percent.1
Strawberry Lemonade does have a legacy. The flavor has been immortalized, somewhat, in the music of Oasis. In the British pop band's song, "Talk Tonight," Noel Gallagher sings that "all your dreams are made of strawberry lemonade." (For more info, see also here.). Apparently, according to Wikipedia (which cites Paul Mathur's Take Me There), a young woman who was a pleasant distraction for Mr. Gallagher during an early 1990s tour stop was the inspiration for that lyric, as she was a lover of the now discontinued flavor. (For the record, "Talk Tonight" was a b-side on the "Some Might Say" single and appeared on the Oasis compilation, The Masterplan.).

If you've made it this far in the post, then you are as wistful for this drink as I. So, in your spare to time, why not drop Snapple a postcard or telephone call requesting the resurrection of Strawberry Lemonade. This many years after its discontinuation, it would be wonderfully random for the company to receive sporadic communications about it. You can contact Snapple as follows:

900 King Street
Rye Brook NY 10573
1-800-SNAPPLE (762-7753)

Really, there's no harm in dropping them a line, is there?

1. Wax, Alan J. "Tempest in a Teapot for Snapple; It unveils 7 flavors in fight vs. Coca-Cola Nestle," Newsday, March 17, 1993.


horus kemwer said...

Mr. Snobbery, I fear you've failed to cut to the heart of this particular issue. Snapple started as a very small NE drink company (I heard it advertised on Rush before it ever made it down South!), with correspondingly high standards of quality control. (Here's the official website description.) But Snapple was acquired in '93 by Quaker Oats who lost a bucketload of dough on the company, selling it for a fraction of what they paid for it in '97 to Triarc Beverages. Triarc revived the financial viability of Snapple in the late '90s and sold is at a profit to Cadbury Schweppes who now on it (all this as detailed here).

Now, that much is fact, the rest is my personal pet theory. Recall that in the mid-'90s, it wasn't just Strawberry Lemonade, there were an enormous number of Snapple flavors simultaneously available at even relatively small convenience stores which were later discontinued. More than any one flavor, I remember with sadness the sheer variety and the sheer quality of Snapple products. By the late '90s, both the quality of the juice in the bottle and the variety of juices on the shelf had noticeably diminished. My theory is that the quality control levels that worked for Snapple the small independent beverage company simply couldn't be maintained once it had been bought and expanded by larger coorporation. In particular, Quaker Oats must have attempted to maintain (increase?) the number of different flavors Snapple had previously maintained with financially disasterous results. Only in the late '90s, when product quality and variety was reduced and the character of Snapple we'd come to know and love was destroyed under Triarc, did the company start to become financially viable at it's new scale of operation.

Thus, Strawberry Lemonade will never come back because today's Snapple is an entirely different Snapple than that which originally produced it.

Anonymous said...

I've lamented the loss of Strawberry Lemonade as well. Kiwi Strawberry just isn't the same.

digital_boy said...

I am sad at the loss of Mango Madness.

Ransom said...

I've made it official and asked the company.

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