Sunny D is a smooth, slightly sickly, flavoured, juice drink, with a few added nutrients. Some people drink it as a coffee substitute since the various colours and chemicals (listed below) and high sugar level can make you a little hyper. The drink is very popular amongst ten to fourteen year-olds, but this is more due to the extensive advertising campaign, than any actual appeal of the drink. The drink has been accused of deceptive advertising, and some parents will not let their children drink it due to the high additive content. There was a case in 1999 of a four year old girl’s skin turning yellow after drinking too much of the drink.
Sunny Delight began in 1964 as a product of Doric Foods in Mount Dora, Florida. The drink was developed as a “refreshing citrus drink, made up of 5% juice.” The drink was initially distributed only in the Mount Dora area, but in 1968 it was increased to the entire state. This created more demand than was anticipated, and another plant in California opened in 1974. After that came a plant in Findlay, Ohio in 1978.
Doric Foods was bought out in 1983 by Sundor Brands, a corporation based in Darien, Connecticut and in February 1989 expanded distribution with another plant in Chicopee, then, one month later the corporation was acquired by Proctor and Gamble, who proceeded to expand the national and international market, using techniques such as viral marketing, sponsorship and explicitly targeted advertising.
Around 1999 Proctor and Gamble began a campaign to create the illusion that the drink was immersed in youth culture. They invented the nickname “Sunny D” and filmed adverts featuring teenagers talking about the drink using the new nickname as if it was what all the kids were doing. This lead to the targeted age-group integrating the phrase into their subculture because they believed that this was what everyone was doing. However some people either didn’t catch on, or simply refused to call the drink anything but its proper name. In response to this, Proctor and Gamble decided to rename the drink to “Sunny D.” Unfortunately, this means that anyone referring to the drink sounds very similar to a well meaning, but embarrassing, middle-aged parent, trying to be cool.
Sunny D bottles are made out of the same plastic as milk bottles, it is translucent, but milky, appearing more to take on the colour of whatever is contained than to merely show it. The bottles come in a range of sizes, from two litre square-shaped bottles, to snack sized 330ml milk bottle shapes. Wrapped around the bottle is a very colourful label bearing the Sunny D logo. The bottle top is a peel-off plastic lid which is surprisingly difficult to put back on. The feel of the bottle is much like the taste of the drink, smooth, but slightly sickly.
There are four flavours of Sunny D, California Style, otherwise known as citrus or lime, Florida Style, otherwise known as orange, Mango Style, and Caribbean Style.
Florida Style tastes orangey, it’s not a bad taste until you think too hard about it. It tastes as if the orange juice has had a lot of sugar added to it, and then been mixed with vegetable oil. If you look at the ingredients, this isn’t far wrong. However, it is refreshing and a half decent pick-me-up. Personally I would prefer it if it was less sweet, and so I would rather pure orange juice. This style has the least after-taste of the selection, but there is a very slight almost soapy taste in the back of your mouth, which can leave you feeling thirsty.
Californian Style is very similar to Florida style, but slightly more, tangy. It has a very artificial flavour, that gives the impression that all the acidity has been sucked out of the fruits used. The processed used to do this may account for the much more prominent after-taste that comes with this one The aftertaste has the annoying feature of not disappearing with water. In fact the only thing that seems to be able to neutralise it for any time whatsoever is more Sunny D!< It should be noted that this flavour can also come with added calcium. According to Proctor and Gamble, it contains as much calcium per 100ml as a glass of milk.
Mango Style is very different to all other flavours, in that it doesn’t just taste miscellaneously orangey. It does taste of mango, but it also tastes of something else, described on their web-site as “citrus flavours,” since there is no acidity whatsoever, I am reluctant to guess what the other flavour is, it tastes oily and sickly, but, in a contrast to Californian Style, leaves an aftertaste that can be washed out by water. With a meal this style can be very nice.
Caribbean Style is a return to the orangey overtones; however, this flavour does have a hint of pineapple in it. It has reasonably little aftertaste, but the acidity tastes unnaturally low. This is probably my favourite flavour, however, it is probably the most artificial tasting. Drinking it feels like drinking chemicals, chemicals that taste nice, but chemicals none the less. Of all the drinks in the range, this is probably the most refreshing, and, while I would recommend mixing orange juice and pineapple juice as a substitute, it isn’t too disappointing.
- Water (H2O),
- High Fructose Corn Syrup,
and 2% or less of each of the following concentrated juices:
- Citric Acid,
- Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C),
- Thiamin Hydrochloride (Vitamin B1),
- Natural Flavours,
- Food Starch-Modified,
- Canola Oil,
- Cellulose Gum,
- Xanthan Gum,
- Sodium Hexametaphosphate (NaPO3)6,
- Sodium Benzoate To Protect Flavour,
- Yellow #5,
- Yellow #6
In December 1999 Procter and Gamble were forced to admit that the drink, taken in vast quantities, could turn children yellow. The announcement was made following an announcement made by a doctor from North Wales.
The paediatrician had been working in Glan Clywd hospital near Rhyl when the child was brought to him. The child, a four year old girl’s face was a bright yellow, as were her hands. Time passed, and her face began to turn orange. Upon examining her diet, the doctor found that the child had bee drinking one and a half litres of Sunny D (then Sunny Delight) a day.
The problem was one of the drink’s ingredients, beta-carotene, which had been deliberately added by Proctor and Gamble to add to the orange colour of the drink, and the vitamin A content. In their defence, Proctor and Gamble said that the child would have suffered the same effects from drinking the same amount of carrot juice:
”"This is excessive consumption and consumption on that scale would lead to a yellowing of the skin because of the beta carotene, in the same way as drinking too much carrot juice or orange juice would, the tanning tablets we use before going on holiday is beta carotene and works in much the same way. The condition is harmless, there is no health risk and skin will return to normal in a few weeks."
An irony was that the advertisement running at the time showed two snowmen being turned bright “sunny” yellow by the drink!
It should be noted, however that 100ml of Sunny D contains 15% (120 microgrammes) of the recommended daily intake for and adult, and the reason the child turned yellow was that the amount she was drinking was twice the daily amount recommended for adults and so the pigment was dropped in her skin-cells. According to doctors, too much beta-carotene can lead to upset stomachs and flatulence.
Taste tests conducted using 100ml of each type. Found in Andrew Aguecheek’s fridge.
No animals were hurt in the making of this node. Only one child was turned yellow.