How Coca Cola killed a little girl called Samantha; okay it was just her cartoon likeness, but still…

First off, welcome new subscribers. Try Rapidsea out for a few days, and you’ll notice a wide variety of things we cover from organic lemonade (today’s first post) to military recruitment. Thanks, too, to FeedBurner for pushing us to the top of the Buzz list. We meant all the nice things we said about them in the Buzz. Now on to lemonade.

A decade ago there was a little high-end, family-run juice company from Maine called Fresh Samantha. It was named after the daughter of a New-York-to-Portland-Maine refugee Doug Levin and was later consumed in 2000 by a high-end, local-friendly juice company from Florida called Odwalla. After the acquisition, they packed up the Maine batch and moved it down south where it’s warmer and there’s more fruit (the art equivalent of this story is here with Earl Cunningham). Then Odwalla was engulfed a year later by Coca-Cola. This ridiculous aloha-shirt-wearing tropical bird is what we’re left with:

Today, the Samantha juices are gone, and Odwalla/Coca Cola suck for killing them. The Odwalla juices have half the flavor that the Samantha juices had. I haven’t found a single Odwalla juice that I personally like. Samantha juices actually tasted like they were filled with amazing, and probably expensive, juices, not just mostly filler juices. The Odwalla juices and drinks taste bland and chalky compared to what the Samantha juices were like.

In DC last month, while I was checking out the Earl Cunningham exhibit, I stopped at the National Portrait Gallery’s terrace cafe for some lemonade. The workers there didn’t want to make any when I asked for it, so they sold me a bottle of Odwalla lemonade for $4-something instead.

The lemonade is not bad, but not a really a juice either. And Newman’s Pink Lemonade is better and less expensive anyway. What I find annoying about this product is that they chose to put a palm tree on the label instead of actually putting a lemon grove to signify the “pure squeezed lemonade.” What is pure squeezed anyway? And why can the lack of a comma or hyphen make such a difference in the meaning portrayed? These high-end juices can be so deceitful with their labels. Samantha’s premise was simple: all juice, no preservatives, MUST keep refrigerated.

Just after Odwalla/Coca Cola killed Samantha, I wrote to them asking them to bring back the juices. I received a canned answer that was completely unsatisfying. Now I would like to know if the profit margins were that much greater for the chalky Odwalla juices so that they felt like squeezing out the Samantha ones. Or maybe I’m wrong and people just liked Odwalla more.

Doug Levin, if you and your family are still out there, I believe I met your father or father-in-law once years ago when you all were handing out juice samples to naive, young college students in the Boston area. If you are not contractually bound forever, please start another juice company. We see what the they did. You still have a market.

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Posted on September 25, 2007
Filed Under Citrus, Food and Drink, Palm Trees | Leave a Comment


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