In 1992, three rumour
s 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.