In 1992, three rumours spread around involving the ownership and production of Snapple.

The first was that the company had strong ties to the Ku Klux Klan. The second was that the company and its profits supported Operation Rescue. The third, which appeared later in the year, claimed that a large percentage of the tea brewed for Snapple was done in South Africa, which was at that point still following apartheid. Some now speculate that these rumours were started around the time Snapple started a major advertising blitz during Rush Limbaugh's show.

The company did not publicly address these rumours for while, instead opting to simply state the truth to anyone who contacted the company. However, sales continued to slip, as the rumours spread.

Finally, the Snapple Beverage Co. decided to act. They took out full page ads in well-known newspapers disclaiming any connection. "We are not involved in any way whatsoever with the KKK, Operation Rescue or any other type of pressure group or organization, period." The three co-founders, Hyman Golden, Leonard Marsh, and Arnold Greenberg, went on MTV to be interviewed about the situation, "How could three Jewish boys from Brooklyn support the Ku Klux Klan?"

The two features of the label that helped support these rumours were the letter 'K', in small print, to the side of the label, and a small ship in the background of the label that some felt certain was a "blackbirder", a type of ship commonly used for transporting slaves to America. Some even claimed if you looked closely, you could see people in chains, and people wearing the tradition klan hood and robe, all on the ship.

Snapple made changes to the labels to address these issues. The letter 'K', which is a common symbol on foods to denote them being kosher, was modified, put in a circle surrounded by the words "kosher pareve". The ship, originally from the Bettmann Archive denoting the Boston Tea Party, first had the name of the event put near it on the label, and later on was dropped entirely.

Sadly, even in 1995, a full year after the company made all these efforts to demonstrate the rumour false, a panel of African-Americans on 20/20 discussing concerns about various companies proceeded to mention Snapple beverages.

In response to this claim, I have to say that my first experience with Snapple makes me suspect, if anything, something quite the opposite.

It was 1991 (1992?), and I was one of many "extras" working on the film Leap of Faith, during some sound-stage scenes in the studios at Las Colinas. When we arrived on the first day, we were told to help ourselves to the huge spread that was in the building where we waited to be called in for tent scenes, etc. I was looking through the cans of soda and the big igloo jugs of lemonade, tea, and water, and I wondered what all the big crates under the tables had in them.

I opened one up, and that's when I discovered Snapple. At the time, I don't think it was even being marketed in Dallas, yet. Having heard all these stories about the mafia or the unions (same thing?) running the film biz (or at least the catering - we get the weirdest rumors) out in California (so they were probably liberal or "fruity" mafia?), I just kinda assumed that, not having seen lots of people drinking it, that the caterers had made some kind of kick-back deal with someone's brother-in-law or something to buy a bunch of fruity drinks that nobody really wanted.

I was wrong, of course. At least about the idea that nobody wanted it. I noticed a lot more people drinking Snapple around the set once I started looking for it, and I tried some and liked the flavors quite a bit, at least until the novelty wore off. Of course, I later turned out a bit fruity, too... so my suspicions are probably closer to the truth than some finger-pointing fools assuming it's made by klansmen without bothering to do any research (or, perhaps, spreading rumors on purpose, for their own nefarious reasons).

I mean... come on! Have you ever seen some cross-burning loony in a flowery print bedsheet?


Zerotime says: I'm fairly sure there's a scene in Fletch Lives involving the KKK and a flower print bedsheet.

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