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14 Real Facts About Snapple

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The quirky beverage company has more than 1000 Real Facts, but we’re only serving up 14 of our own. Twist off the cap and enjoy.

#347. IT WAS FOUNDED BY TWO WINDOW WASHERS AND A HEALTH FOOD STORE OWNER.

Childhood friends Arnold Greenberg and Leonard Marsh, along with Marsh’s brother-in-law Hyman Golden, started the Unadulterated Food Corporation in 1972 to sell all-natural juices to the growing number of health food stores in and around New York City. Because they were low on capital and not 100% confident in the concept (Marsh later told The New York Times he “knew about as much about making juice as I did about making an atom bomb”), all three kept their day jobs—Marsh and Golden at their window washing company, Greenberg at his grocery store on Manhattan’s Lower East side.

#673. THE NAME WAS INSPIRED BY A BAD BATCH OF APPLE JUICE.

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A shipment of carbonated apple juice accidentally fermented in the company’s warehouse, sending bottle caps flying. Seeing the humor in the incident, not to mention an opportunity, the founders combined the distinct sound (“snappy”) with the fruit, and voila, “Snapple” was born.

#293. SALES TOOK OFF WHEN THEY STARTED MAKING ICED TEA.

Sales grew slowly through the '70s and '80s, and it wasn’t until Snapple introduced ready-to-drink iced tea in 1987 that the company really took off. The formula took three years to engineer, and the key to the drink’s success, Greenberg told the Times, was that they heated the tea before chilling it to erase any preservatives. “We made the first ready-to-drink tea that didn’t taste like battery acid,” he said.

#18. HOWARD STERN AND RUSH LIMBAUGH USED TO BE SPOKESMEN.

Both shock jocks used to pitch Snapple on their shows (Limbaugh started for free), and both took credit for its national success. Naturally, when the company pulled its support, neither was very happy. Stern, who lost support because of one too many off-color jokes that offended parent company Quaker Oats, referred to it as “Crapple.”

#945. SO WAS IVAN LENDL.

The tennis star takes on what looks to be a cross between Pauly Shore and John McEnroe in this 1991 ad.

#721. REMEMBER WENDY THE SNAPPLE LADY? SHE WAS A REAL EMPLOYEE.

Wendy Kaufman was a real administrator and letter opener at the company’s Long Island office when an ad executive, who wanted to fashion Snapple’s new ad campaign around a real worker, discovered her. Snapple executives balked at Kaufman’s less-than-svelte appearance, but then the ad man, Richard Kirshenbaum, reminded them that Oprah Winfrey and Rosie O’Donnell were two of the most popular celebrities in America at the time. The ads, which involved Kaufman’s “Snapple Lady” answering customer letters in hilarious fashion, were a hit.

#827. THE COMPANY TOOK A NOSE DIVE IN THE MID ‘90S.

Quaker Oats bought Snapple in 1993 and proceeded to suck the life out of the brand. Quaker had achieved phenomenal success with Gatorade, which it bought for a pittance in the early ‘80s, and it tried giving Snapple the same slick, mainstream marketing treatment. It also attempted to centralize distribution, increase serving sizes, and cut down on some of Snapple’s quirkier drinks like “Kiwi Teawi”. Big mistake.

#459. THEY’VE BEEN SUED SEVERAL TIMES FOR THEIR ‘ALL NATURAL’ CLAIM.

The term is loosely defined by the Food and Drug Administration, and other companies in the crosshairs have included Tropicana, Sun Chips and Ben & Jerry’s. Snapple recently transitioned from high fructose corn syrup to sugar.

#136. THEY WERE THE SUBJECT OF A WEIRD RUMOR INVOLVING THE KKK AND THE BOSTON TEA PARTY.

Starting in 1992, a rumor started swirling that Snapple was in cahoots with the KKK. The evidence: The company’s label, which featured a floating “K” on it and a drawing depicting a line of what were rumored to be slave ships. The “K,” of course, signified the beverage’s kosher status, and the sketch was of the Boston Tea Party. It all sounds incredibly silly, but the rumor gained enough steam that Snapple changed its label and ran ads to refute the claims.

#234. THE COMPANY CLAIMS REAL RESEARCHERS VERIFY ITS REAL FACTS.

Hiding under the cap of every Snapple bottle is an odd, endearing “Real Fact” (#992: The patent for the fire hydrant was destroyed in a fire). And the company claims it fact-checks everything. “They are real facts, and we have teams here that fact-check everything,” David Falk, Snapple’s head of marketing, told The Atlantic. “We go through a pretty vigorous process.” 

#703. AND YET, NUMEROUS FACTS ARE WRONG.

Like #868, which says that Thomas Jefferson invented coat hangers (Monticello’s own website refutes the claim). Or #50: Mosquitos have 47 teeth (they have what’s called a serrated proboscis). Snapple has “retired” some of its facts, either because they were inaccurate (#89. The average American walks 18,000 steps a day—something anyone with a Fitbit and a desk job can refute) or because they’re no longer true (#824. On average a man spends about five months of his life shaving.)

#899. BRITISH SCIENTISTS DISPROVED THE THEORY BEHIND SNAPPLE FACT #36.

A duck’s quack does indeed echo, as proved by a recording and expert analysis conducted by the BBC. Case closed.

#640. THEY’VE HAD SOME SAVVY PRODUCT PLACEMENT.

Including an episode of Seinfeld and this very meta product-endorsement argument on 30 Rock.

#98. THEY’RE NOW OWNED BY THE SAME COMPANY THAT MAKES DR. PEPPER, YOO-HOO AND HAWAIIAN PUNCH.

The Dr. Pepper Snapple Company owns more than 30 beverage brands and has sales upwards of $6 billion. Despite its corporate bedfellows, Snapple’s still been able to rekindle some of that quirky marketing appeal.

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Pop Culture
How Jimmy Buffett Turned 'Margaritaville' Into a Way of Life
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Few songs have proven as lucrative as “Margaritaville,” a modest 1977 hit by singer and songwriter Jimmy Buffett that became an anthem for an entire life philosophy. The track was the springboard for Buffett’s business empire—restaurants, apparel, kitchen appliances, and more—marketing the taking-it-easy message of its tropical print lyrics.

After just a few years of expanding that notion into other ventures, the “Parrot Heads” of Buffett’s fandom began to account for $40 million in annual revenue—and that was before the vacation resorts began popping up.

Jimmy Buffett performs for a crowd
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“Margaritaville,” which turned 40 this year, was never intended to inspire this kind of devotion. It was written after Buffett, as an aspiring musician toiling in Nashville, found himself in Key West, Florida, following a cancelled booking in Miami and marveling at the sea of tourists clogging the beaches.

Like the other songs on his album, Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes, it didn’t receive a lot of radio play. Instead, Buffett began to develop his following by opening up for The Eagles. Even at 30, Buffett was something less than hip—a flip-flopped performer with a genial stage presence that seemed to invite an easygoing vibe among crowds. “Margaritaville,” an anthem to that kind of breezy attitude, peaked at number eight on the Billboard charts in 1977. While that’s impressive for any single, its legacy would quickly evolve beyond the music industry's method for gauging success.

What Buffett realized as he continued to perform and tour throughout the early 1980s is that “Margaritaville” had the ability to sedate audiences. Like a hypnotist, the singer could immediately conjure a specific time and place that listeners wanted to revisit. The lyrics painted a scene of serenity that became a kind of existential vacation for Buffett's fans:

Nibblin' on sponge cake,
Watchin' the sun bake;
All of those tourists covered with oil.
Strummin' my six string on my front porch swing.
Smell those shrimp —
They're beginnin' to boil.

By 1985, Buffett was ready to capitalize on that goodwill. In Key West, he opened a Margaritaville store, which sold hats, shirts, and other ephemera to residents and tourists looking to broadcast their allegiance to his sand-in-toes fantasy. (A portion of the proceeds went to Save the Manatees, a nonprofit organization devoted to animal conservation.) The store also sold the Coconut Telegraph, a kind of propaganda newsletter about all things Buffett and his chill perspective.

When Buffett realized patrons were coming in expecting a bar or food—the song was named after a mixed drink, after all—he opened a cafe adjacent to the store in late 1987. The configuration was ideal, and through the 1990s, Buffett and business partner John Cohlan began erecting Margaritaville locations in Florida, New Orleans, and eventually Las Vegas and New York. All told, more than 21 million people visit a Buffett-inspired hospitality destination every year.

A parrot at Margaritaville welcomes guests
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Margaritaville-branded tequila followed. So, too, did a line of retail foods like hummus, a book of short stories, massive resorts, a Sirius radio channel, and drink blenders. Buffett even wrote a 242-page script for a Margaritaville movie that he had hoped to film in the 1980s. It’s one of the very few Margaritaville projects that has yet to have come to fruition, but it might be hard for Buffett to complain much. In 2015, his entire empire took in $1.5 billion in sales.

As of late, Buffett has signed off on an Orlando resort due to open in 2018, offering “casual luxury” near the boundaries of Walt Disney World. (One in Hollywood, Florida, is already a hit, boasting a 93 percent occupancy rate.) Even for guests that aren’t particularly familiar with his music, “Jimmy Buffett” has become synonymous with comfort and relaxation just as surely as Walt Disney has with family entertainment. The association bodes well for a business that will eventually have to move beyond Buffett’s concert-going loyalists.

Not that he's looking to leave them behind. The 70-year-old Buffett is planning on a series of Margaritaville-themed retirement communities, with the first due to open in Daytona Beach in 2018. More than 10,000 Parrot Heads have already registered, eager to watch the sun set while idling in a frame of mind that Buffett has slowly but surely turned into a reality.

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Design
The Secret to the World's Most Comfortable Bed Might Be Yak Hair
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Savoir Beds laughs at your unspooling mail-order mattresses and their promises of ultimate comfort. The UK-based company has teamed with London's Savoy Hotel to offer what they’ve declared is one of the most luxurious nights of sleep you’ll ever experience. 

What do they have that everyone else lacks? About eight pounds of Mongolian yak hair.

The elegantly-named Savoir No. 1 Khangai Limited Edition is part of the hotel’s elite Royal Suite accommodations. For $1845 a night, guests can sink into the mattress with a topper stuffed full of yak hair from Khangai, Mongolia. Hand-combed and with heat-dispensing properties, it takes 40 yaks to make one topper. In a press release, collaborator and yarn specialist Tengri claims it “transcends all levels of comfort currently available.”

Visitors opting for such deluxe amenities also have access to a hair stylist, butler, chef, and a Rolls-Royce with a driver.

Savoir Beds has entered into a fair-share partnership with the farmers, who receive an equitable wage in exchange for the fibers, which are said to be softer than cashmere. If you’d prefer to luxuriate like that every night, the purchase price for the bed is $93,000. Purchased separately, the topper is $17,400. Act soon, as only 50 of the beds will be made available each year. 

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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