Riding the wave of more than 60 years of fruit punch fun, Hawaiian Punch has become the gold standard of fruit punch drinks. Hawaiian Punch is made with natural fruit juices and flavors, including such tropical favorites as pineapple, passion fruit, papaya and guava.
In 1934 A.W. Leo, Tom Yates and Ralph Harrison developed the first Hawaiian Punch recipe in a converted garage in Fullerton, Calif. They wanted a tropical-tasting syrup to add to their line of ice cream toppings sold under the trade name Pacific Citrus Products Company. "Leo's Hawaiian Punch," as the brand was called at the time, was sold to area restaurants, soda fountains and ice cream manufacturers. The "Leo's" was dropped from Hawaiian Punch several years later. The U.S. Patent Office gave Leo's Hawaiian Punch its trademark on June 9, 1938.
Reuben P. Hughes purchased the company with other investors in 1946, and renamed it the Pacific Hawaiian Products Co. Although consumers had discovered that Leo's Hawaiian Punch concentrate was a delicious drink when mixed with water, they could not purchase it directly. Hughes immediately remedied the situation by introducing quart bottles of the concentrate for sale in retail grocery stores in the West and offered a ready-to-serve red Hawaiian Punch in a 46-ounce can in 1950.
During the '50s, skyrocketing sales for the Hawaiian Punch brand and other fruit juice products catapulted Pacific Hawaiian to the middle ranks of U.S. beverage corporations. In 1955, the company introduced frozen concentrate in 6-ounce cans to grocery stores. Later in the year, Hawaiian Punch became a national brand.
To take advantage of the fun tropical image of the brand, advertising agency Atherton-Privett created the familiar Punchy character in December 1961. Artist Martin Mandelblatt is credited with the creation of Punchy, who appeared as a cartoon character on television for the first time in February 1962. Punchy became an instant advertising success and brand identifier for young people. Punchy's "How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?" tagline personified the brand's image and advertising and was copyrighted in 1964. In addition, Punchy was accompanied by Opie (sometimes referred to as Oaf), who served as the target of the mascot's punch. The Punchy and Opie characters and tagline remained in use through the 1990s.
RJ Reynolds Company acquired Hawaiian Punch in 1963. In 1981, the business was transferred to Del Monte, a wholly owned subsidiary of RJR. Del Monte grew the Hawaiian Punch business and introduced several new products, such as a powder version, soft drinks and other flavors for the brand.
Del Monte also expanded Hawaiian Punch to new distribution channels throughout the United States. The company then leveraged several advertising tie-in campaigns to drive awareness of its tropical fruit punch attributes. In 1978, RJR began to employ television personalities Donny and Marie Osmond as Hawaiian Punch advertising spokespeople.
Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G) acquired the Hawaiian Punch business from Del Monte in 1990. Following the acquisition, P&G doubled the size of the concentrate business and established the gallon as the leading shelf-stable juice drink package. P&G also created several other packages for food and convenience store delivery.
In 1992, a clever presidential promotion campaign promoted Punchy as the favored candidate ("No one else has the punch"). While Punchy didn't win the election, his popularity soared. Punchy has been revamped with contemporary fashion and music to appeal to modern consumers. He still has the punch!
On May 15, 1999, Cadbury Schweppes acquired all rights to Hawaiian Punch from P&G.
In April 2002, Hawaiian Punch introduced a new flavor called "Green Berry Rush" to its portfolio of products. Green Berry Rush is a bold mix of kiwi and strawberry that gives consumers a new twist in flavor.
Following the successful launch of Green Berry Rush, the brand introduced two new flavors in February 2003 - "'Mazin Melon Mix" and "Bodacious Berry." Both flavors combine the seven natural fruit flavors found in Fruit Juicy Red, but add in their own distinctive flavors. Consumers can detect the tangy taste of berries in Bodacious Berry while savoring the sweet melon flavor in 'Mazin Melon Mix.
Also in February 2003, Punchy received a makeover. The long-time spokesman for Hawaiian Punch was given a more contemporary look.
With the introduction of new Hawaiian Punch flavors, the brand continues to experience exceptional growth and brand awareness in both the juice drink and carbonated soft drink categories. In February 2004, Hawaiian Punch launched the new flavors of "Wild Purple Smash" and "Tropical Vibe."
In early 2005, Light Hawaiian Punch was reformulated to include sucralose, only 10 calories and 100 percent of the USRDA for vitamin C, and was sold in 20-ounce bottles and 12-ounce cans for the first time.
Today, Hawaiian Punch is part of Plano, Texas-based Dr Pepper Snapple Group, Inc., an integrated refreshment beverage business marketing more than 50 beverage brands throughout North America.
The main ingredients of the first Hawaiian Punch recipe were shipped from the Hawaiian Islands, thus the origin of the name.