April 17, 2024

Arnold Greenberg, a Founder of Snapple, Dies at 80

Arnold Greenberg, who began his career selling pickles and herring from a New York City storefront and went on to become a founder of Snapple, the international beverage giant, died on Friday in Manhattan. He was 80.

A resident of Delray Beach, Fla., who also had homes in Manhattan and Southampton, N.Y., Mr. Greenberg had been ill with cancer for some time, his family said.

In 1972, Mr. Greenberg, who was by then running a health food store in the East Village in Manhattan, joined forces with two old friends, Leonard Marsh and Hyman Golden, to sell fruit juices to health food stores. A part-time concern — Mr. Greenberg retained his store and Mr. Marsh and Mr. Golden kept the window-washing business they ran together — the juice business performed modestly in its early years.

Then, in the late ’70s, the three men hit on the idea of producing a soft drink flavored only with natural juice. An early effort by their company, by then known as Unadulterated Food Products, was an explosive failure: they marketed a carbonated apple juice that fermented in its bottles and sent a spate of caps blasting.

But the name they had coined for the drink, Snapple (an amalgam of “snappy” and “apple”), proved so evocative that it was soon adopted by the company as a whole.

The Snapple Beverage Corporation became one of the first companies to offer a wide line of juices and carbonated drinks made with natural ingredients. Sales were buoyed by the rising tide of health-conscious consumers in the 1980s; in 1987, after Snapple introduced the first in its line of bottled iced teas, it became an undisputed leader in the New Age beverage market.

The company also became known for its offbeat advertising. An early 1990s campaign by Kirshenbaum Bond was built around a series of television spots featuring the Snapple Lady. A motherly character played by an actual Snapple employee, Wendy Kaufman, the Snapple Lady answered customers’ letters.

By 1994, when Snapple was bought for $1.7 billion by the Quaker Oats Company, it was recording annual sales of about $700 million.

Mr. Greenberg, Snapple’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, retired after the Quaker Oats sale. Snapple is now owned by the Dr Pepper Snapple Group, based in Plano, Tex.; its product line comprises more than 50 flavors of juice, fruit punches and teas.

Arnold Shepard Greenberg was born in Brooklyn on Sept. 2, 1922, and grew up in the Brownsville neighborhood there. His father owned an appetizing store in the East Village, on First Avenue near St. Marks Place, selling staples like lox, herring and pickles; by the 1950s, Arnold Greenberg was running it.

“It was a very traditional operation,” Mr. Greenberg told the newspaper The Jewish Week in 1994. “We made our own sour pickles and wrapped them in newspapers.”

By the 1960s, with the East Village becoming decreasingly Jewish and increasingly hippie, Mr. Greenberg converted the business into a health food store. In the early ’70s he went into business with Mr. Marsh, a childhood friend with whom he had attended Samuel J. Tilden High School, and Mr. Golden, who was married to Mr. Marsh’s sister.

When the three men coined the name Snapple, they discovered it was already owned by a small company in Texas, which appeared to have little interest in using it. They bought the name for $500.

Mr. Greenberg’s first wife, the former Marilyn Parmet, died in 1993; a son, Michael, also died before him. He is survived by his second wife, the former Roberta Budoff; two daughters from his first marriage, Susan Minster and Robin Nijankin; a brother, Herbert; three stepchildren, Scott Budoff, Gary Budoff and Kim Fields; and 14 grandchildren.

As Snapple’s founders often said, one of their greatest pleasures lay in developing and naming new flavors. Not every name passed muster, however. In the 1990s, they produced a guava drink, eventually marketed as Guava Mania.

As Mr. Greenberg told “CBS This Morning” in 1994, the three partners also gave serious consideration to Guava Vavoom and Guava Nagila.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/31/business/arnold-greenberg-a-founder-of-snapple-dies-at-80.html?partner=rss&emc=rss