The history of Sunkist dates back to way before it was an orange soda. It all started more than a hundred years ago, when citrus growers in California and Arizona instituted the Sunkist trademark as a mark of freshness and premium flavor.
General Cinema Corporation, a large theater operator and soft drink bottler, first licensed the use of the Sunkist trademark in a soft drink in 1978 from the Sunkist Growers, releasing the product in test markets.
Sunkist Soda was so well received by consumers that it was launched nationally in 1979. Soon, Sunkist became the best-selling orange soft drink and sales continued to climb. By 1981, Sunkist was one of the top 10 soft drinks, a first for any orange soda.
The mid-1980s marked many changes for the brand. The Sunkist soda license experienced two ownership and product formulation changes.
In 1986, Cadbury Schweppes acquired the Sunkist orange soda license from Del Monte. Under Cadbury, the Sunkist brand expanded to include diet orange, lemonade, diet lemonade, strawberry, grape, pineapple, peach and fruit punch. Diet Orange, Orange and Grape Sodas are available locally.
Sunkist maintains a high level of brand awareness with consumers and is often named as consumers’ favorite orange soda. The Sunkist soda license continues as part of Plano, Texas-based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, an integrated refreshment beverage business marketing more than 50 beverage brands throughout North America.