I’m not sure how to write critically about juice. I like juice. Juice usually tastes good. There were a lot of popular brands of juice in the 80s and 90s, and you’d be shocked to discover that there are still a lot of popular brands of juice. In fact, many of them are the same ones that were popular when I was a child! Incredible, I know. This isn’t going to be a hard hitting expose on juice I’m sorry to say, but maybe I’ll uncover something new for you to take away about Kool-Aid or something. Juice!
For more than 30 years the entire ad campaign for Hawaiian Punch involved Punchy, the aggro mascot for the juice, tricking Oaf into saying that he wanted Hawaiian Punch and then punching him in the face. It’s a decades long nightmare of an awful person tricking his mentally disabled(?) friend(?) into becoming a victim of violence. Apart from normalizing unprovoked violence, this seems like a bad method of selling juice. I’ve always loved the way that Hawaiian Punch and these other juices were packaged in large aluminum cans for home use in the 1980s. In order to open them you’d have to use the triangular punch on a bottle opener. You’ll notice these a lot in the videos in this article.
And now for a couple of things that may be news to you! 1) Hawaiian Punch is from California, not Hawaii, 2) It was originally created as an ice cream topping, and 3) Mark Mothersbaugh did the crazy commercial below. At least nobody in it gets assaulted.
Unlike Hawaiian Punch, Juicy Juice chose not to inject “stop hitting yourself” energy into its ads. Instead, of the brands featured here Juicy Juice is the only one to acknowledge other combatants in the juice wars. This is a bold tactic given that it reminds people that while most of these names are very stupid this is the only one that sounds like it was named by actual babies. For this reason I never asked my mom to buy it. See, advertising does work!
Most of the nostalgic hype surrounding Hi-C is directed towards Ecto Cooler. That makes perfect sense because most Hi-C flavors are still available and essentially unchanged, whereas Ecto Cooler went away. Then it came back. Then it went away again. The actual flavor of it was fine but never one of my favorites. More than any other entry in this article, Hi-C feels like old reliable. It’s the one that made its way into our lunches most often when we didn’t receive a can of pop, and if I ever thought to buy drink boxes now it’s one I would probably consider.
I included two videos here because while the top one is more in-line with what I remember there is an entire campaign of spots like the one below and I was so happy to discover they exist.
In a previous article I talked about Squeezit but these aren’t your father’s Squeezits! They’re your even older aunt’s Squeezits because the bottles don’t even have faces on them. From an advertising standpoint the redesign was a smart one but it creates even more nostalgic pangs in me for the older, unadorned bottles. Sure you can’t pretend to be a giant squeezing the guts out of a terrified villager but…you know, I can’t actually justify my preference. The murderous giant fantasy rules.
My Squeezit consumption was rare but this was always a favorite among juice options.
We didn’t drink a lot of Tang, most likely because my parents didn’t see any potential astronauts among their kids. Tough but fair.
May be news to you! The inventor of Tang also invented Cool Whip and Pop Rocks, which makes him an accessory after the fact in the tragic death of Life Cereal Mikey.
First: I love that they re-wrote “Hip Hop Hooray” to sell Kool-Aid. This is a perfect 1994 commercial.
Bummer for Kool-Aid that “drank the Kool-Aid” entered the vernacular when the Jonestown Massacre actually involved Flavor-Aid. Congrats guys for becoming the Kleenex of mass murder-suicide. I hated Kool-Aid packets so so much. Nobody ever added the correct amount of sugar and it always ended up as vaguely flavored water. Now I primarily drink seltzer so I’m constantly intentionally drinking vaguely flavored water.
Some more may be news to you! Kool-Aid was based on a product called Fruit Smack. In another reality it has a mascot called Smacky with a dimwitted sidekick who always says yes when Smacky asks if he’d like a Fruit Smack.
Like Tang, Sunny Delight’s appeal relied heavily on fooling people into believing that it was good for your children. Of course Sunny D couldn’t follow that up by referencing astronauts like Tang could, but they did have one of the most quoted commercials of all time. “Purple stuff” is right up there with “I learned it from watching you” as possible last words for anybody born between 1978-1985. Plus actual orange juice is also full of sugar, so if you like Sunny D I say go nuts.
Look, I am a man of the 90s, so it was a requirement that I end this piece talking about Boku, the greatest and only adult juice box of that decade. The premise behind Boku was, “short of adding alcohol, how can we make people confuse Hi-C with Bartles and Jaymes?” For something I never actually had, Boku occupies an outsized portion of my brain. Richard Lewis also occupies a big chunk of brain matter, and all of the memories are related to Boku commercials and appearances on late night talk shows. Richard Lewis was the perfect alternative for people who liked Seinfeld but weren’t crazy about the funny parts.
What was your go-to childhood juice? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter.
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