BEVERAGES BACK IN THE DAY: Nehi Soda Flavors Rich in Pop Culture
The fondest for flavors in the soft drink business really began in 1924 when Claude Hatcher, a Georgia grocer developed a line of fruit flavored Nehi sodas to go with his Chero-Cola and Nehi Cola. He offered orange, grape, root beer, peach, and other flavors of soda and soon each began to out sell his cola to the point that Hatcher changed the name of the company to The Nehi Corporation in 1928. Nehi flavors went on to survive the Great Depression and marketed its way to become an American icon.
The advertising logo for Nehi was a head turner on signage and a page stopper in magazines and newspapers. A bottle of Nehi next to woman’s legs, in which the skirt was high enough to show the stockings up to the knee, suggesting the phrase “knee-high”.
Nehi was the featured advertiser on Robert Ripley’s top rated radio show “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” and by 1940 you could find Nehi in 47 of the then 48 states. By 1946 Nehi realized the power of celebrity and signed Bing Crosby and Bob Hope and sales soared and popularity grew.
They used glamorous Hollywood Stars like Joan Crawford who later joined Pepsi Cola’s Board of Directors. Nehi countered with the leggy starlet Hedy Lamarr who appeared in all ads and the flavors of Nehi had grown to ten including new flavors like Dr. Nehi, Nehi Chocolate, Nehi Root Beer, Nehi Lemonade, Nehi Wild Red, Nehi Blue Cream, to go with the classic flavors of Nehi Orange, Nehi Grape, and Nehi Peach.
Nehi Cola was available along with Chero-Cola but in 1955 they reformulated recipes and consolidated their cola efforts with the creation of Royal Crown Cola and marketed it as RC Cola, The surge of both Coca-Cola and the growing popularity of Pepsi caused the decision of the Nehi Corporation to change the corporate name to Royal Crown Cola Company.
Nehi Grape had a revival and was introduced to a new generation of pop culture when Radar O’Reilly of the popular CBS television show M*A*S*H made an ongoing reference to Nehi Grape being his favorite drink and reason for the Korean War to end.
In 2008 The Dr. Pepper Snapple Group acquired the Nehi Brand.
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