Snapple replaces corn syrup with real sugar

[via NYTimes]

Snapple, once the “official beverage of New York City,” is being redesigned — inside and out — this year.

The popular iced teas are losing the high-fructose corn syrup and the dated font. The bottles are becoming more svelte (to better fit into cup holders, which became a force after Snapple iced teas were originally introduced). The labels will also emphasize the green and black tea leaves used to make the drink. The changes are rolling out over the first few months of the year, and they are expected to hit New York in early March, according to Dr Pepper Snapple Group, which is now the owner of the brand.

Snapple, which once defined the genre of specialty tea, now finds itself fading in an increasingly crowded field of competitors. The brand, which passed through many hands before landing as part of Dr Pepper Snapple, went through a round of focus group testing over the last two years.

“Through that work we really found that Snapple had lost of its luster and had been replaced in the minds of consumers by other beverages out there,” said Jim Trebilcock, an executive vice president with Dr Pepper Snapple.

(For example, President Obama prefers (the more lightly sweetened) Honest Tea, and the White House is now stocked with his favorite flavors, Black Forest Berry and Green Dragon.)

Real sugar is replacing the corn syrup. (Sugar vs. corn syrup, by the way, is the difference between Mexican and American Coca-Cola.) In some cases, that has actually resulted in a decrease in calories.

The old ingredient list for Lemon Snapple Iced Tea: “water, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, tea, natural flavors.” Calories: 200. The new ingredient list: “filtered water, sugar, citric acid, tea, natural flavors.” Calories: 160.

The label is also being refreshed. Gone is the print-block style sun, the handwritten fonts, and the red highlights. Instead, they are putting more emphasis on “All Natural” and “Made From Green & Black Tea Leaves.” The “Snapple” itself is going from a heavy-set typeface to a more elegant serifed typeface. (Logo redesign seems to be in these days.)

Of course, Snapple’s origins are rooted in selling juices to health food stores. Originally, in 1972, it was a partnership of three men that was named Unadulterated Food Products.

The five-year, $166 million “official beverage” agreement with New York is scheduled to expire this year, because it failed to live up to its potential, but the drink and the city are still tightly bound. Not only was the original company founded in Queens in 1972, but also, about 40 percent of Snapple sales today are concentrated in New York City — arguably the highest concentration of any nationally distributed beverage in the United States.

Mr. Trebilcock said that Dr Pepper had 30 percent of its sales concentrated in five southwestern states, but still that was 30 percent, and across five states. “The New York consumer has made Snapple what it is,” he said.

While on the phone with the Snapple executives, this reporter took the opportunity to lodge a protest about the inability to find Mint Snapple Iced Tea, which apparently was discontinued despite protests and petitions. (Others are trying to take steps to remedy the absence, too.) Mint Snapple Iced Tea lovers, your voices have been heard.

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