One of beverage giant Snapple’s most ingenious marketing tricks is the collection of quirky “Snapple Facts” that it imprints on the inside of its bottle caps. (Here’s a partial list of Snapple facts, such as “On average, a human will spend up to 2 weeks kissing in his/her lifetime.”)
Snapple co-founder Arnold Greenberg, who died in New York City on Oct. 26 at age 80, didn’t dream up Snapple Facts (the idea was conceived in 2002, eight years after he left the company following its sale to Quaker Oats for $1.7 billion). Nevertheless, Greenberg himself could have inspired a special edition of Snapple Facts. Here are five fascinating tidbits about the beverage mogul and the brand he helped create.
- He started out selling lox, herring and pickles. Greenberg started out running his family’s Manhattan deli, peddling ethnic delicacies. But when he noticed that the East Village’s burgeoning hipster population was interested in experimenting with their diets as well as drugs, he opened a health food store. A few years later, in 1972, he and two of his friends, Leonard Marsh and Hyman Golden, who at the time ran a window-washing business, decided to go into the fruit juice business.
- Snapple’s first product became a success in spite of a snafu. The beverage, a carbonated apple juice drink, fermented in its bottles and caused the caps to pop off in the warehouse. Nonetheless, distributors soon were calling back for more cases of the stuff. Moreover, the clever name that the founding trio coined for the drink, Snapple – a combination of “snappy” and “apple” - was so catchy that they decided to use it as the brand name for their entire beverage line.
- Snapple was plagued by apocryphal memes. According to a 1993 article in the New York Times, Greenberg was puzzled to discover that many people thought his company secretly was backing Operation Rescue, a controversial anti-abortion group that blockaded Planned Parenthood clinics. As an investigators for the company eventually learned, that was just one of the fake scandals on the rumor mill. Other spurious whispers insisted that Snapple bottled its product in Apartheid-era South Africa and backed the Ku Klux Klan. The latter rumor, oddly, apparently grew from the “K” symbol that Snapple put on its bottles, which indicated that it conformed to Jewish dietary laws.
- The Snapple Lady actually was a real employee. In the 1990s, Snapple surged in popularity, thanks in part to clever commercials that featured the Snapple Lady, a character who answered customers’ letters in a thick Long Island accent. While most commercials feature actors, the Snapple Lady was in fact an actual company worker named Wendy Kaufman. Here’s a 1993 spot featuring Kaufman and “Shane, the Wonder Dog.”
- Greenberg was a bit of a neat freak. In a 1993 Beverage World interview, Greenberg confessed that when he walked into a store that sold Snapple, he couldn’t resist tidying up the display of his product. “My wife yells at me,” Greenberg said in the article. “I go into a supermarket, I’m straightening out a four-foot section. I tell the manager, ‘It’s a little sticky. You got a wet cloth?””