In the mid-’90s, seemingly everyone — Generation X’ers, sugar-lusting future millennials, and burned out ex-hippies — was clutching a glass bottle of Snapple. An iced tea and juice drink made up of (among other things) filtered water, sugar, citric acid, and fruit and/or vegetable concentrate, Snapple became more than a sum of its parts, it was something different: a sweet, refreshing drink that wasn’t as flashy as Coke, as wasteful as bottled water, or as snarky as the “Got Milk?” ads.
Rewind to 1978. Annie Hall won the Oscar, the Bee Gees were at the top of the charts, and the “childhood think-tank troika” of Leonard Marsh, Hyman Golden, and Arnold Greenberg accidentally fermented a batch of carbonated apple juice. Merging the names “snappy” and “apple” produced a name that the three men agreed on: Snapple. The brand made a name for itself through clever marketing, including the now infamous tagline that suggests Snapple-branded iced tea and juice is made from “the best stuff on Earth.”
While it would take years of trial and error to find their niche in the world of ready-to-drink beverages — which would eventually lead to an $18.7 billion deal and help make the seventh-largest food and drink company in the U.S. — Marsh, Golden, and Greenberg ultimately created a brand with wide appeal. Snapple gained traction in 1987 from the production of its ready-to-drink iced tea, but it wouldn’t be until an ad campaign starring a vivacious — albeit highly unorthodox — customer service representative named Wendy that the bottled drink would take on a life of its own.
In the late ’80s and early 1990s, the grip of Big Soda tightened its carbonated fingers across America: Pepsi had Michael Jackson, and Coke ditched New Coke and reintroduced its beloved original formula under the name “Coca-Cola Classic.” But arriving to take a bite out of that market share was author, entrepreneur, and advertising executive Jon Bond and Wendy Kaufman, who would soon become a pop culture icon better known as “Wendy the Snapple Lady.”
“I’m part of their history,” Kaufman says. For those who don’t remember the brilliant “Snapple Lady” ads that aired from the early to mid-’90s, the gist was Kaufman — who got the gig because Snapple co-founder Greenberg is the father of “one of my dearest friends in the whole wide world” — would read genuine letters from Snapple customers and answer them on air.